#NSD18: Meet Manatee High’s new Ivy League football players

Manatee High signs two football players to Ivy League programs

Josh Betts discusses Manatee High having four players in the Ivy League, and choosing Dartmouth.
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Josh Betts discusses Manatee High having four players in the Ivy League, and choosing Dartmouth.

Brett Gerber made up his mind in June.

The critical college football decision came much later for Josh Betts.

In the end, the two Manatee High seniors are going to the Ivy League, which was celebrated inside the school’s Davis Building for Wednesday’s National Signing Day.

Gerber, a linebacker, signed with Yale, while Betts, a defensive back, will join Dartmouth.

“I didn’t get officially offered until two weeks ago when I went on my official visit,” Betts said. “And after the visit was done, Coach (Buddy) Teevens took me into his office. ... I was offered and I committed immediately. There’s no better place for me to be.”

With Gerber and Betts’ decisions, Manatee High now has four recent players at an Ivy League program.

They join offensive lineman Seth Walters (Dartmouth) and kicker Nick Null (Cornell), who pledged in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

“You don’t see that,” Manatee football coach Yusuf Shakir said. “Two on one team? That’s unbelievable, especially at a public school. ... I’ve never heard of a public school signing two Ivy League kids before, and I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now.”

Manatee signings 020818 (2)
Manatee High had seven football players sign with colleges on National Signing Day. From left to right, Javarious Pollock (Dakota College), Josh Betts (Dartmouth), Sir Williams (Morningside College), Brett Gerber (Yale), Cedric Waters (ASA College), Josh Booker (Itasca Community College) and Dylan Spagnolo (Bethany College). Jason Dill

Yale stuck with Gerber even after he suffered a foot injury that limited his senior season.

Gerber said his family instilled academics in him, but he also saw the path former Bradenton Christian offensive lineman Josh Clark took.

At the time, Gerber’s father, Allan, was the Panthers’ head coach and Clark was a coveted recruit. Clark, though, decided against other major Division I programs for Dartmouth to secure his academic future.

“He was sort of a role model for me,” Gerber said. “I’m friends with him and still talk to him to this day. To see how positive his experience there was and how much he enjoyed it, he told me if you get offered by an Ivy League school, there’s no other place to go.”

In addition to Gerber and Betts, the Canes also celebrated signings with running back Josh Booker (Itasca Community College), wide receiver Javarious Pollock (Dakota College), center Dylan Spagnolo (Bethany College), defensive back Cedric Waters (ASA College) and defensive back Sir Williams (Morningside College).

Volleyball player Rachel Sadler was honored for signing with Jacksonville State University.

Booker had an offer from South Florida when Willie Taggart was coaching there. The Manatee High alumnus is now the head coach at Florida State after spending a year at Oregon.

“I’m glad I am actually taking this JUCO route to go bigger than that, because I think I can go to a big team,” Booker said.