When Clemson lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship Game last January, Wayne Gallman initially was pretty mad.
But it did not take too long for the Clemson running back to get over it, and in fact he drew from a previous experience to pull him through.
When Gallman was a sophomore at Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia, he along with Tigers’ backup quarterback Nick Schuessler advanced to the state semifinals. They were undefeated and were going against one of the powerhouses in the state of Georgia – the Colquitt County Packers.
Colquitt won the game and ended the Rams dream season in the Georgia Dome.
“I was not mad or anything because I just knew we were going to go back,” Gallman recalled on Monday.
He was right. They did. Grayson returned to the state semifinals the following year, and this time it won. The very next week, the Rams avenged their loss to Colquitt County and won the school its first state championship.
“I felt kind of the same way last year. We can do the same thing,” Gallman said. “I was pretty mad that we lost of course, but I already had that focus that if we could stay focused and keep that drive then we can always make it back. We just have to do the right things.”
The first thing second-ranked Clemson has to do is win Saturday’s season-opener at Auburn. Not a small order, especially considering how the ACC’s Tigers are now a marked team.
“Pretty much for the whole season, we are embracing the target, knowing we are the target,” Gallman said. “We proved last year that we are a team that can come out and do anything to win. Teams want to be us.”
That’s why Gallman says Clemson has worked even harder this year. They understand that they truly are going to get every opponent’s best shot, but it will come down to how Clemson plays and executes that will ultimately determine the outcomes.
“We always have to keep that focus and know what the job is,” Gallman said.