Gateway’s Matt Brooks, Dallas Harper look forward to future in football
Sunday, January 8, 2023 | 11:01 AM
Matt Brooks didn’t wait around for his college experience to begin.
The December Gateway graduate moved into his dorm room at Duquesne on Jan. 4 and began classes the next day.
The start of winter football workouts was to follow Friday and pick up in intensity this week.
“It feels very real right now,” said Brooks, a standout offensive tackle and defensive lineman who finalized his decision to continue his athletic and academic pursuits with Duquesne on Dec. 21, the first day of the early signing period for Division I football.
“The anticipation has built for a long time. Now that I am here, it feels great.”
Brooks shared the experience with fellow Gators senior Dallas Harper, who will take his talents to Youngstown State after a stellar career with Gateway at both wide receiver and defensive back.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I waited for that day,” Brooks said.
“I watched all of my teammates go through their signing day, and it motivated me to work hard to get that chance, too. It was great to finally experience that myself with family, friends and teammates, including Dallas.”
Brooks originally didn’t think he would graduate high school early and instead would start his college experience during the fall of his freshman year. He plans to walk with his Gateway senior classmates and teammates during graduation ceremonies in June.
“I talked to my coaches and (Gateway) administrators, and they gave me the option to graduate early and showed me that I would have enough credits. So, I said, ‘Why not?’ I am getting a head start.”
Also signing with Duquesne on Dec. 21 were Apollo-Ridge’s Dom Curci, Franklin Regional’s Nate Chiarizio, North Allegheny’s Abdallah Daud and Kevin O’Donnell, and Penn-Trafford’s Daniel Tarabrella.
Brooks capped his season with Big East first-team all-star honors at both offensive tackle and defensive end. He tied for the team lead in tackles (66) with junior linebacker Remy Bose and added two sacks.
He also got the chance to score a touchdown in the win over Norwin as he hauled in an 11-yard TD pass from junior Brad Birch.
Harper said he was grateful to be surrounded by family, friends and teammates as he made his decision to join the Penguins football program final last month.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Harper, who is listed as an athlete on the YSU website announcing the team’s signees, hopes to make an immediate impact for a Penguins team that finished the 2022 season 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
YSU earned its first winning season since 2017.
Harper caught 38 passes for 592 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior while making 30 tackles, intercepting seven passes and forcing two fumbles.
His exploits were recognized with selection to the Big East first team at both wide receiver and defensive back.
Harper joins South Allegheny senior defensive end DeShawn Carter (6-4, 220) as YSU signees from the WPIAL.
Brooks and Harper helped Gateway finish 7-4 overall, 4-1 and in second place in the Big East Conference, and earn a spot in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. The Gators battled Upper St. Clair close in the first round at Antimarino Stadium before falling 24-21.
Brooks and Harper, who will reunite on the field during the 2024 season when Duquesne plays at Youngstown State, are looking forward to seeing additional Gateway football seniors sign with their college choices when the regular signing period begins Feb. 1.
The period extends to April 1 for Division I and to Aug. 1 for Division II signees.
Another Holmes to Bloomsburg
Morgan Holmes joined in on the day of celebration Dec. 21 and signed her swimming letter of intent with Division II Bloomsburg.
“It was nice to have my family there to share the experience with me,” said Holmes, who already has earned several automatic qualifying cuts to the WPIAL Class 2A swimming championships in March at Pitt’s Trees Pool.
“I was relieved to finally have the decision over and behind me knowing I had the right school. I can just concentrate on the rest of my senior season with my teammates.”
Holmes said she felt a strong connection after meeting the Bloomsburg team members and the coaches.
“I just knew it was the right choice,” she said. “I am really excited.”
And how much influence did brother, Drew, a freshman swimmer with the Huskies, have on her decision?
“Having my brother go through the recruiting process with Bloomsburg, and now that he is on the team, we were able to gather a lot of information,” Morgan said.
“I am excited to swim with him again for three more years. But when I was on my recruiting trip, I didn’t see my brother at all. I wanted it to be my choice and my decision without him being there as a factor.”
Holmes said she is excited to see what the rest of her senior season holds. Through four meets, Holmes earned individual automatic WPIAL cuts in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100 free, the 200 free, the 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley.
She said she also is looking forward to helping several relays post qualifying cuts over the next couple of meets.
“The season has been going really well, and I am proud of how hard we are working and the way we are competing,” Holmes said.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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