By Will Vandervort.
Mickey Conn is probably shaking his heads these days over at Grayson High School in Georgia. Why? He did not give Wayne Gallman the ball enough at running back when he had the chance.
Instead, Gallman was a stud linebacker on a defense that helped Grayson win a state championship his junior year.
“Coach Conn and I have talked and he does wish he had put me back there a little bit more because I would have learned a whole lot more about running back and would have been a little more prepared coming into college,” Gallman said following Wednesday’s scrimmage.
But it is all good. In the end, it all worked out for Conn and for Gallman. Conn’s Grayson program is one of the best in the state of Georgia, while Gallman is now the first-team running back for Clemson.
“They had their own little thing at Grayson with the Wing –T. (Linebacker) is where they wanted to play me at in high school because I could do so many things and I didn’t mind,” Gallman said. “Running back has always been my position of choice ever since I started playing football at five.”
Even when he got his few opportunities in high school, you could tell Gallman was a natural at running back. He rushed for 700 yards and eight touchdowns his junior year and then added 516 yards and eight more scores as a senior.
But like he said, he wasn’t too bad on defense, either. He totaled 46 tackles and seven sacks his senior year and played in the Offense and Defense All-Star Bowl in Houston, Texas before coming to Clemson.
But Clemson recruited Gallman as a running back and so far the redshirt sophomore is returning the favor for their faith in him. After being redshirted in 2013, he really came on last season, especially late in the year.
Of his team leading 769 yards, 571 of them came in the last six games of the season, including a career-high 191 in the Tigers’ 35-17 victory over South Carolina. He scored two touchdowns that day as well.
The momentum from last year’s success has carried over to this spring, where on Wednesday head coach Dabo Swinney, who ironically was Conn’s college roommate at Alabama, and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott indicated Gallman is starting to separate himself from the rest of the pack at running back, which includes Tyshon Dye and Zac Brooks.
“Wayne is starting to assert himself as the top guy in the room and everybody else is chasing,” said Elliott, who is also Gallman’s position coach. “That is a good thing for him because he has to continue to push each and every day knowing those guys are behind him.”
Swinney says it is obvious every time they go on the practice field that Gallman is the leader of the group. He had another good day in Wednesday’s scrimmage.
“Gallman just continues to shine. He is a special talent,” Swinney said.
Gallman says he is just doing what the coaches are asking him to do, while trying to elevate the offense.
“Some of us are trying to lead the group so I’m trying to take hold of that,” he said.
It appears he has and all that does is make Conn smile a little more when he watches Gallman play.
“He is very proud,” Gallman said.