Gateway seniors sign on to continue football careers

Sunday, February 5, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Leonard Sherrod, Racari El, Anez Jordan and Malachi Moore shared in the celebration of senior football teammates Matt Brooks and Dallas Harper when they finalized their decisions to attend Division I Duquesne and Youngstown State, respectively, on the first day of the National Letter of Intent early signing period in December.

Last Wednesday, on the first day of the NLI regular signing period for Division I and II athletes, it was their turn in the spotlight as they put pen to paper to sign with Division II programs and conclude the recruiting process.

Sherrod will join the football program at Wheeling University, while El signed with Cal (Pa.), Jordan with Notre Dame College in Ohio, and Moore with Alderson Broaddus in West Virginia.

“This was always my dream to play at the next level,” said El, who made 33 tackles, recovered two fumbles and recorded four sacks for a Gateway defense which surrendered just 16.7 points a game last season in helping the Gators win a share of the Big East Conference title.

“I felt I did a pretty good job of preparing myself to succeed in college.

“Seeing (Matt and Dallas) sign in December started to get me excited, but it really didn’t fully hit me until about 30 minutes before I signed. I started to get some jitters and realized this is for real. I am really happy to share this day with my friends and family and my teammates.”

El was named second-team all-conference at outside linebacker.

“He was one of those guys who always did what we asked him to do,” Gateway coach Don Holl said.

“He worked hard to get better all the time. He had found himself in a little bit of a log jam on the depth chart when he was younger. When he got his opportunity, he took full advantage of it.”

Sherrod was one of the leading tacklers for the Gators in 2022 as he recorded 54 stops and also picked off a pass and recovered a fumble.

“I am just blessed to have this opportunity,” Sherrod said. “I knew some people who went to Wheeling, and when I met some of the players, it instantly felt like family, along with the coaching staff. With everyone’s support, I couldn’t wait to sign.”

Jordan was selected second-team all-conference at defensive back, while Moore garnered honorable-mention honors at tight end.

“Our safety position has been a critical part of our defense, and we asked Leonard to do a lot for us against the run and the pass,” Holl said. “It’s no coincidence that the guys who play that position are some of the best athletes on the field who are versatile, tough and who understands the game.

“On offense, our most athletic guys have been that hybrid slot receiver/running back guy, and that was Anez. We would also ask him to lock somebody down at corner, he often came up big for us.

“Malachi was a ball boy for us back in 2017 when we won the WPIAL championship at Heinz Field. We watched Malachi grow up on the sideline and then on the field, and he gave us great contributions on both sides of the ball.”

Moore, Jordan and Sherrod will share the college field with each other each season as Alderson Broaddus, Notre Dame College and Wheeling are members of the Division II Mountain East Conference.

“With the four last week and Matt and Dallas from December, that is six guys from the senior class, and there still might be more in the coming weeks,” Holl said.

“I am really happy they all found homes that they are excited about.”

It was an overall day of celebration with family and friends for the group Gateway seniors who will continue in athletics at the next level.

In addition to the four Division II football signees, Nate Demchek will join the baseball team at Division III Westminster, Dan Codelupi will attend Division III Juniata College for lacrosse, and Mia Johnson will continue her basketball pursuits at Penn State Greater Allegheny.

“I say it every year around this time, and it never gets old, that it is a great feeling as a coach, and for me as an athletic director, too, when you get to see your athletes realize their dreams,” Holl said.

“This is the next step to what they are going to become. No matter what the sport, we have athletes who excel at a high level in their sport and in the classroom. It is satisfying and gratifying to see the results of their hard work.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .


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