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Senior football players celebrate college football decisions

MIchael Love | The Times Express
Michael Crawford (holding Michigan State sign), is flanked by Gateway seniors, from left, Brenon Thrift, Joe Robak, Jimmy Moore, Montae Nicholson, Zaihe Regus, Delvon Randall and Anthony Davis as they celebrate signing day at Gateway High School on Feb. 5, 2014.

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National Letter of Intent signing day, in addition to being an official declaration with signatures on the dotted line of important documents, also has served as an unofficial transition the past several years for senior football players at Gateway.

This year was no different, as seven players — Montae Nicholson, Anthony Davis, Brenon Thrift, Delvon Randall, Joe Robak, Jimmy Moore and Zaihe Regus — reaffirmed their college choices and celebrated with family and friends during a ceremony last week at Gateway High School.

“This group is special,” said Moore, who will take his talents west to Ohio and play for Division II Lake Erie College.

“We've overcome a ton of obstacles, from losing Darrell Turner to losing coach (Terry) Smith and learning a new offense this year. It made us all stronger individuals. I was so happy to spend my four years with these guys and create a brotherhood that will never be broken. I am sure that 10 years from now, I will still be able to depend on these guys and remember the good times.”

For Nicholson, one of the most coveted college prospects in the state and country for the Class of 2014, the decision to remain at Michigan State was affirmed.

He said he stayed with the Spartans after a month and a half of recruiters from other Division I programs seeing if he would sway from the verbal commitment he made on Dec. 19.

Nicholson, an all-state and national all-star honoree who has been selected for June's Big 33 all-star game in Hershey, is ready to take the next step.

“It's a wonderful feeling,” said Nicholson, who also will compete on the Michigan State men's track and field team.

“But I look at it as only being half over. We all still have a lot to do to be ready for our freshman seasons and get on the field.”

Thrift, Randall and Davis all remained committed to Temple. Thrift said he understood if people thought they might change course after Terry Smith left Temple last month to become an assistant at Penn State.

“(Head) coach (Matt) Rhule told us we are still in the scheme at Temple, and there are great opportunities there,” Thrift said.

“They need playmakers and guys who can rush the quarterback. We fit those roles.”

Regus will join a Mercyhurst squad which went 7-4 overall in 2013.

He hopes to be one of the team members to make the trip to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor when the Lakers face Slippery Rock there on Oct. 18.

Joe Robak was an anchor on both the offensive and defensive lines at Gateway, and he hopes to make an impact in his first year at Edinboro.

With Robak's help, the Gateway offense was able to produce several individual and team passing records this past fall.

The Gators went 8-3 overall and 6-2 in Quad East play (third place).

They reached the WPIAL quarterfinals before falling to eventual WPIAL champ Pittsburgh Central Catholic, 27-21.

Fellow Gateway senior Ricky Rogers also made his college decision final with West Virginia, and he has gotten a jump on his freshman season.

Rogers already has enrolled at WVU and will be able to take part in spring practices with his Mountaineers teammates.

He was not able to attend last week's ceremony.

Former Gateway standout Armstead Williams is one of two mid-year signees by the Duquesne football program. The other is former Chartiers Valley star Wayne Capers.

Williams comes to the Dukes from Purdue University, while Capers was at Arizona last fall.

Williams played two seasons for the Boilermakers on defense at linebacker after taking a redshirt season in 2011.

He appeared in all 12 games for Purdue in 2013, and he made nine tackles (five solo) and recovered a fumble. The Boilermakers finished 1-11 overall and 0-8 in the Big Ten this past fall.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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