Former Bobcat Galloway enjoys Clemson debut
By Alex Maminakis
CLEMSON — Just a few miles east of where he played football and basketball at Seneca High School, Braden Galloway ran down The Hill into Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon as a Clemson Tiger.
As one of 13 first-year freshmen to take the field against Furman, Galloway, a tight end, took full advantage of his second-half opportunity when his number was called.
The former Bobcat caught three passes on as many targets for 34 yards and his first career touchdown — a 9-yard pass from fellow freshman Trevor Lawrence in the fourth quarter.
It was the first Clemson touchdown by a former Bobcat since Joe Don Reames returned a punt for a touchdown in 2000.
It was an exciting and memorable day for the hometown freshman, and an encouraging one for his future at Clemson.
“On the bus ride, I had some chills,” he said following the game. “I was getting goose bumps, but once I got out there and started moving, everything kind of went away. Once I got out there, I felt like I was just playing, just like it was in high school.
“Obviously, I knew there were a lot of people out there. Just being out there with all the people we’ve been working hard with since I’ve been here in January, everything paid off, so it was fun.”
Galloway enrolled early at Clemson in January, but he underwent a second foot surgery this spring for an injury he suffered during his senior season at Seneca. His recovery went quickly, though, as Galloway was able to play in Clemson’s spring game and take part in workouts this summer.
He said enrolling early gave him a valuable head start on learning the Tigers’ playbook and offense, and he also took advantage of learning from Clemson’s veteran tight ends.
“Tremendously,” Galloway said of how starting in January helped him. “Especially with Garrett (Williams), Cannon (Smith) and Milan (Richard) — they’ve all been here for four or five years, so they all know the schemes and things that might change week to week. Running all that, that helped me out a lot.”
Galloway wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school. He had one offer from N.C. State before the Tigers offered him in April 2017, and he committed three days later after attending the spring game.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney knew Galloway was a raw talent when he decided to offer him, but he recognized Galloway’s potential early on, and he saw even more of it on Saturday.
“He’s not played a lot of football, and he’s a guy that when we recruited him, we had to kind of say, ‘Well, we think he could be this,’” Swinney said. “But he’s a guy we projected, and I think we knocked it out of the park.
“Sometimes you hit a single, sometimes you hit a double, and I think we hit a grand slam with Braden Galloway. I think he’s going to be an awesome player.”
Swinney pointed out the tight end position is a difficult one to understand in the Tigers’ offense, but he saw Galloway put in a lot of work to learn as much as he could over the summer.
Galloway’s size at 6-5 and his willingness to be physical also haven’t hurt him in impressing the coaches. Swinney even compared Galloway to one of Clemson’s most productive tight ends in school history.
“He’s just a pup, and what I love about him is he’s a try-hard guy. He gives great effort, and he’s not afraid,” Swinney said. “He’s going to be a big kid that can run. He’s athletic, and he’s one of those guys that when he’s covered, he’s open. He’s that type of guy, and that’s kind of how (Jordan) Leggett was.
“I think he’s a guy who’s going to become a better and better route runner, and a guy I think can play every down eventually. Right now, we’re just trying to teach him.”
Clemson’s freshman class, as a whole, drew a lot of praise after Saturday’s 48-7 win over Furman, and deservedly so. But it was, after all, just one game.
Galloway and all of the freshmen still have a lot to learn and a lot to experience at the college level, but Saturday was a good start.
For Galloway, who missed the majority of his senior season at Seneca because of his foot injury, it felt good just to be back on the field.
“I was talking to one of the coaches, I was like, ‘I haven’t played since maybe early August of last year, actually in a real game,’ so it was exciting,” he said. “And scoring was just the icing on the cake.”
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