Looking back on Braden Galloway’s one-year suspension in 2019, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney believes it was a blessing in disguise for him.
Galloway, who is expected to start at tight end for the Tigers this season, had to sit out the entire 2019 regular season after being 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 systems.
Swinney says Galloway’s year off from game action allowed him to grow as a player behind the scenes while watching the season unfold from the sidelines, and he benefited from working as a scout-team tight end in practice against Brent Venables’ stalwart defense.
“Last year was really a blessing for him because he was able to sit back and really learn a lot,” Swinney told reporters recently. “And being over there with Coach V and running the scout team challenged him as well. So, he’s in a good place. He’s earned it, and I’m excited to see him take advantage of the opportunity.”
According to Swinney, Galloway has gotten better in multiple areas of his game since he arrived on campus in January 2018 as a raw but outstanding athlete from nearby Seneca High School who played more basketball than football there.
Heading into the 2020 season, the Tigers hope Galloway will give them the type of weapon they have been missing at tight end since Jordan Leggett moved on to the NFL after the 2016 season – a go-to playmaker at the position who can stretch the field and create mismatches against opposing linebackers and safeties.
“He’s long, he can run, he’s a matchup problem,” Swinney said. “He’s one of those guys that when he’s covered, he’s still open, and that’s what a guy like him brings to that position. He runs like a wideout, he catches like a wideout, but he’s got the body of a tight end. He’s gotten so much better as far as finishing plays on contact, body control, body positioning, details of the position.”
Galloway was able to return to action in both College Football Playoff games last season and flashed his potential in the national championship against LSU when he caught two passes for 60 yards, including a career-long 42-yarder. A junior entering the 2020 season, Galloway has seven career receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown in 14 games.
While Galloway lost a year of eligibility in 2019 due to the suspension, he will be able to get that year back if he wants it thanks to the NCAA’s decision to grant all fall sport athletes, even those who play this season, an additional year of eligibility.
“I’m really happy he was able to get a couple of games in last year. Ended up, had a couple nice plays in the national championship game,” Swinney said. “And then with the fact that basically everybody kind of gets a year back this year, he gets his year back. So, I’m happy for him because he’s a developmental guy and was mostly a basketball player coming out of high school. But he is unbelievably talented and loaded with potential and has made a ton of improvement.”
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