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Former Gateway standout Todd Jeter a hit at Westminster

| Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, 11:45 p.m.
Westminster senior defensive back Todd Jeter, a Gateway grad, was named on the D3football.com's 2017 Preseason All-America Second Team.
Westminster athletics
Westminster senior defensive back Todd Jeter, a Gateway grad, was named on the D3football.com's 2017 Preseason All-America Second Team.
Westminster senior defensive back Todd Jeter, a Gateway grad, was named on the D3football.com's 2017 Preseason All-America Second Team.
Westminster athletics
Westminster senior defensive back Todd Jeter, a Gateway grad, was named on the D3football.com's 2017 Preseason All-America Second Team.

Westminster football senior standout Todd Jeter has a knack for always being in the right place.

Perhaps that's why when he received word Aug. 1 that the 2016 All-PAC first-team cornerback was named to the Lindy's Preseason All-Division III All-American second team, Jeter was again in the right place. He was at a late-night training session at UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side.

“It's a real big honor,” said Jeter, a 2013 Gateway grad. “I work hard, and sometimes you don't get the recognition, and when you are a competitive individual it's nice. I'm on the right path.”

Jeter's path is one less traveled.

After leaving Temple as a freshman during preseason camp, he found the perfect fit when he joined the Titans football team in 2014. He started from Day 1.

“He's been huge for us from the gate,” said Westminster coach Scott Benzel. “He's started every game since he's been here. I think we are going to see an even better Todd Jeter (this year).”

Last season, as a junior, Jeter turned in a performance worthy of recognition. He intercepted four passes, added 15 passes defensed and had 18 tackles at left cornerback.

“I think what makes Todd Jeter different than a lot of defensive backs, not just at Division III, (is that) he's a corner that is so physical,” Benzel said. “He'll compete in the air for the ball, and he'll hit you, and that's just something that I think that makes him unique. He's a tough guy playing that position.”

Opposing quarterbacks should be warned: Jeter, who has 12 career interceptions for the Titans, set a goal of picking off seven this season.

“The way we play defense, we really rely on the perimeter,” Benzel said. “Without having Todd, I don't think we could have been as successful as we were, because he can legitimately take your best guy and take him away from you.”

Lindy's wasn't the only media outlet to recognize Jeter's skills. He was named to the HERO Sports Division III Football Preseason All-America Second Team and also D3football.com's Preseason All-America team.

“Physically, I think he's going to be better,” Benzel said. “He's always been really sharp in terms of understanding schemes.”

Despite getting Division I looks while in high school, Jeter takes nothing for granted. He continues to prepare and condition in an effort to play professionally. The 6-foot, 180-pounder trained at Dewayne Brown's 2/10th's Speed and Agility Training when Brown pulled out his phone and showed Jeter he earned preseason All-America honors. It came as no surprise to Brown, who has trained his share of football players, most notably 2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.

“I'm looking at him, (and I said) this dude's a NFL guy,” said Brown describing his first impressions of Jeter. “You start seeing the athletic ability and then size that he got, he should have a chance.”

With Jeter's size, speed and natural knowledge of the game, Brown thinks Jeter should get a look from NFL teams who are looking for speedy, taller defensive backs to match up against the ever-growing size of NFL wide receivers.

“He's a big-sized corner, and the way the game has changed, he should get a look,” Brown said.

Jeter has things that can't be coached: size and the ability to take in information, process it quickly and make changes. Those qualities are something Brown feels Jeter has above most players at his position.

“When you got kids a that can process stuff like that so fast, those are the guys that are going to have the longevity playing the game,” Brown said. “Even if he hasn't done it before, he can pick it up.”

Despite all of the preseason recognition, Jeter is still focused on helping a senior-laden Titans team to the top of the PAC.

“I feel like we have a great season coming along,” Jeter said. “When I was a freshman, a whole lot of starters were freshman as well and at all the positions that are critical.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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