McGee and Szalkowski sign NLIs

Top: Tyler Szalkowski (middle) is joined by his family during Wednesday’s ceremony at Moe Jackson’s Speed and Football School. Middle: Tyler Szalkowski (18) has led Aquinas to a 20-3 record while he is under center. Seven McGee helped East to the 2018 Class A semifinals. Bottom: Seven McGee (middle) flanked by East High Athletic Director Eric Robinson (left) and East co-head coach Steve Flagler (right). (Photo contribution: JOE BRADT)

By PAUL GOTHAM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One committed during his freshman year. The other gave his verbal agreement as a junior. 

Both made it official on Wednesday. 

In separate ceremonies, Seven McGee (East) and Tyler Szalkowski (Aquinas) inked National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at the Division I level. 

“It’s a lot of emotions,” said McGee who will play football at the University of Oregon. “A lot of people said I was idiotic for committing so early, so young. I battled through. It was a lot of pain and suffering. The outcome is smiles and joy.”

Szalkowski will attend and play football for the University of Albany. 

“There have been a lot of ups and downs,” said Szalkowski when asked about making his decision during the current pandemic. “There have been times when I got to a point where (I was asking) ‘Why am I doing this anymore?’

“I kinda wanted to find the light at the end of the tunnel, so I felt that committing a little earlier than a lot of guys and committing or signing in the early period to get it out of the way. I know I have something waiting for me after we get through this time and the cray world that we live in.”

Listed as a 4-Star recruit by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports, McGee mentioned former Oregon players De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Mariota and Lamichael James as his motivation for attending the Pac-12 school.

“Oregon has definitely been my dream school since I was young,” said McGee who also received offer from Arizona State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Florida Atlantic, Florida, Utah and USC. “There have been a lot of great players there. When I was nine, 10 years old I always wanted to play for the Ducks.”

Szalkowski committed in June to Albany. The Aquinas quarterback also had an offer from Lafayette. 

“I compared everything,” said Szalkowski who led the Li’l Irish to the 2018 Section V and New York State Class AA titles. “I checked all the boxes. Their offense is very good. The school is amazing. They have a lot of stuff that I can do after I graduate, post-grad stuff like that. Football-wise they’re one of the best in CAA (Colonial Athletic Association), and I’m excited.”

The two had different emotional states heading into the day.

“I couldn’t go to sleep,” McGee said. “I actually slept two hours. I was up talking to other commits. It was hard to go to sleep. We all were full with emotion.”

And Szalkowski.

“I probably woke up in the best mood I’ve ever woken up in. It’s hard  to explain. I kinda went through my whole day going to school and acting like that with a big smile on my face. It was amazing. Different kind of feeling when you know that you have a chance to play at another level.”

McGee and Szalkowski were part of four local student-athletes signing to play football at the Division I level. 

Rowan McGwin (Irondequoit) will continue his career at Buffalo. Pittsford’s Andrew Bonnani will attend Colgate and play for the Raiders. Fairport’s Jaelin Moss will sign his letter to play at Syracuse during the later signing period.

Additionally, Victor’s Rushawn Baker announced his commitment to attend and play at Bucknell. 

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