Jeter set to represent Gateway at Big 33 Classic all-star game
Later this month, Todd Jeter, a recent graduate of Gateway High School, will begin the next phase of his academic and football pursuits and arrive on the campus of Temple University in Philadelphia.
The defensive back is the latest in a decade-long string of Gators football players to sign with Division I programs.
But before he begins his tenure at Temple, Jeter will play one more high school football game.
He is one of nine WPIAL players on the 34-member Pennsylvania team for Saturday's 56th annual Big 33 Classic at HersheyPark Stadium in Hershey.
The game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff, and it will be broadcast live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
“I am really excited and ready to play,” Jeter said. “I missed putting on the pads. It's going to be fun.”
Jeter's final game in a Gators uniform came on the turf at Norwin High School with his team's three-point WPIAL quarterfinal loss to Woodland Hills.
He helped Gateway finish with a 9-2 overall record and win another conference championship.
Jeter made 27 tackles and intercepted two passes for the Gators, as opposing offenses regularly stayed away from his side of the field.
He already has played in an all-star football game, as he joined five other Gateway seniors on the North team for the annual Chesapeake Bowl in Landover, Md., on Dec. 29.
Jeter was on the victorious side that evening, as the North, with players from the WPIAL, the rest of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Delaware, defeated the South, 38-13.
The Big 33 team was picked in mid January, right before Jeter signed his letter of intent with Temple.
“It makes me feel good to know that people felt I was one of the top (senior players) in Pennsylvania,” Jeter said.
Also set to play in the Big 33 from the WPIAL are Seneca Valley running back Forrest Barnes, Woodland Hills linebacker Alex Beasley, Clairton wide receiver Tyler Boyd, Baldwin running back Dorian Brown, Clairton defensive back Titus Howard, Washington linebacker Jaylin Kelly, Seneca Valley offensive lineman Dean Ketterer, North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich and West Mifflin defensive end Marcus Martin.
Belle Vernon offensive lineman Dorian Johnson was selected for Big 33, but he pulled out of the game.
There will be a WPIAL presence on the PA coaching staff, as North Allegheny's Art Walker is the head coach, with Central Valley head coach Mark Lyons as one assistant. McKeesport assistant Jim Wehner also is on Walker's staff.
More than a dozen Gateway players have capped off their senior years by playing in the Big 33 game.
Pennsylvania has lost its past four Big 33 games, including last year's 24-21 overtime defeat to Ohio.
The 20-year series against Ohio ended last year, and Pennsylvania will resume a series against Maryland.
The two states played an eight-game series that ended in 1992 with Pennsylvania scoring a 38-0 victory.
There has never been a Big 33 game played that didn't feature at least one player who went on to play in a Super Bowl.
“It's nice to be able to show my talent in this game before I go to college,” he said.
Jeter will take about a week or two break after the Big 33 game to make final preparations for his trip to Temple.
He said he hopes to make an impact immediately for the Owls. He wants to be on the plane that will take the team to South Bend, Ind., for Temple's season-opening contest Aug. 31 at Notre Dame.
‘I am ready for college football,” Jeter said. “I am ready to play.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.