When he finally got his opportunity to be on the field in the College Football Playoff, Braden Galloway did not waste them.
Galloway, who missed the entire regular season and ACC Championship game due to an NCAA suspension, played a lot in both the Tigers’ Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State and in the national championship game against LSU.
“It had been a long year. There were days when I really did not feel like being there, but I knew, hopefully, there was a chance I could play in these last two games. It was all a part of God’s plan and it worked out that way,” Galloway said.
Galloway was suspended due to a failed drug test administered by the NCAA prior to the 2019 Cotton Bowl. He, along with former defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence and former offensive lineman Zach Giella, had traces of a performance enhancing drug called Ostarine in their system. The three men have maintained they did nothing wrong to this day, but Galloway’s and Giella’s appeal to the NCAA was denied last May. Galloway was forced to sit a year and lose a year of eligibility, while Giella, a redshirt senior, saw his career come to an end. Lawrence, of course, turned professional after his junior season and now plays for the New York Giants in the NFL.
After a long year of only being able to practice and work with the scout team, Galloway made his return in the Fiesta Bowl, where his presences was definitely felt. At 6-4, 240 pounds, Galloway is extremely athletic and fast, and he used his time away to get stronger, which paid off against Ohio State.
On Trevor Lawrence’s 67-yard touchdown run, he made one of the key blocks that allowed Lawrence to get into the open field. He later had another block that allowed Travis Etienne to break off into the open on the game winning touchdown.
“It is all a part of our game plan. You just keep playing hard to the whistle,” Galloway said. “That is something they instill in us every week, throughout fall camp, throughout winter workouts, mat drills and all of that, just finishing through the whistle. That’s all I was really doing, just playing through the whistle and just running and celebrating with my guys in the end zone.”
When he watched the tape with his teammates after the game, Galloway said his teammates gave him a little praise for getting out in front and setting blocks, but they also teased him about how slow he is compared to Lawrence and Etienne.
“They definitely noticed it a little bit,” he said smiling. “I was definitely with Trevor a little bit and then he kind of took off on me. I was kind of with Travis a little bit and then he took off on me, so they definitely used that extra gear that I did not have, but I was happy to be the end zone and celebrating with them.”
Clemson was happy to have him back in the mix on offense. Though he did not catch a pass in the Fiesta Bowl, he could see his presence on the field caused Ohio State’s defense to change up a few things. Against LSU, when the defense forgot about him, Galloway made them pay with completions of 42 yards and 18 yards, both on scoring drives.
“Everybody has different abilities and different skill sets. I am just trying to be the best player I can be. And, I know just like all the other tight ends, they are just trying to do what they can to help the team win,” the sophomore said.
Galloway’s 42-yard catch in the national championship game set Clemson up in good position for its first score of the night. Running wide open down the middle of the field, he rumbled to the LSU 25-yard line. The Tigers scored a few plays later on a 1-yard run by Lawrence.
“Trevor and Isaiah [Simmons], they have been great,” Galloway said as far as how they kept him encouraged all season. “I was over on the scout team and Isaiah would be like it’s only 29 days until we are back. It was just different things like that.
“It was just cool having different guys like that support you. They knew my situation. They knew I did nothing wrong, so just to have those guys there supporting me is probably what got me through it the most, other than my mother and my family.”
Galloway made his second catch near the end of the first quarter, when on third-and-six, he caught an 18-yard pass from Lawrence to keep the drive alive. It was Clemson’s only successful third down-play of the night and it led to a 52-yard B.T. Potter field goal in the second quarter, which gave Clemson a 10-7 lead at the time.
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