Penn-Trafford’s Gay commits to Air Force

Monday, February 5, 2018 | 6:00 PM

When it came to choosing a college, and like his tackle-hurdling touchdown run at Heinz Field in the WPIAL finals, John Gay aimed high.

Gay, a standout running back at Penn-Trafford, made a verbal commitment Monday to play at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Air Force is a Division I-FBS program.

Wednesday marks the first day of the regular signing period, and Gay, a third-generation running back, will make his pledge official then.

The all-Class 5A Big East Conference first-teamer had just narrowed his finalists to Air Force, Robert Morris and Navy.

“I think it's a great decision. One of the best schools in the country, and his work ethic will be a perfect fit,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “He has superb upside, and will use his skill set to be an outstanding player for them but an even better person.”

Gay rushed for 1,285 yards and 19 touchdowns this past season to help lead Penn-Trafford (11-2) to a WPIAL runner-up finish. The ninth 1,000-yard rusher in school history, he scored a touchdown in all but one game.

Air Force wants him as a running back.

“The people are great, and Colorado is great,” Gay said. “Everything just felt right. I felt at home.”

Gay (6-foot, 190 pounds) pondered whether the military lifestyle was for him, but he understands the word “commitment” transcends football at an academy.

“I know I have to serve my country,” he said. “I have aspirations to play in the NFL, so If I make it, I have to serve two years. If I don't, I serve four.

“It's a huge relief, and to say I'm going to play Division I football is a dream come true.”

His father, John III, was a star running back at Gateway before he played at Kentucky and then West Virginia. He had a tryout in the NFL.

Gay III scored the winning touchdown for WVU in a 1984 upset of Doug Flutie-led Boston College, ranked No. 4 at the time.

John Gay II was a standout back for Braddock in the 1950s.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BillBeckner.


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