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Grayson's Gallman makes big impact with unique skills

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grayson senior running back and linebacker Wayne Gallman has committed to play for Clemson next season.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grayson senior running back and linebacker Wayne Gallman has committed to play for Clemson next season.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Grayson senior running back and linebacker Wayne Gallman has committed to play for Clemson next season.

THE GALLMAN FILE

Who: Wayne Gallman

Sport: Football

School: Grayson

Class: Senior

Favorite TV show: Anything on ESPNU

Favorite sports team: Philadelphia Eagles

Dream job: NFL player or something in sports communications

How many different positions have you played in football?: Every one except center and quarterback

Noteworthy:

• Named to third-team All-County defense by the Daily Post as a junior last year after posting 46 tackles with an interception and seven sacks. Also was the Rams’ second-leading rusher with 578 yards and 7 TDs.

• Currently leads Grayson with 778 yards and 11 TDs on 113 carries. Also has six pass receptions for 117 yards and a TD and has made 32 tackles, including two sacks, with an interception on defense

• Has verbally committed to play college football at Clemson

It's quite common for football players for small classifications teams to play both offense and defense.

Even in larger school programs, such iron men are not uncommon.

But make no mistake, Grayson's Wayne Gallman is an uncommon player.

Whether it is as one of the primary ball carriers in a powerful running game or as a playmaking linebacker on one of the state's most dominating defenses, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior makes a major impact for the No. 3 state-ranked Rams (9-1) as they begin defense of last year's state championship against Wheeler in a first-round playoff game Friday night.

"Everybody has their role," Gallman said. "I just have to play hard every game."

Nobody has ever questioned whether Gallman played hard.

In fact, about the only thing about him that ever has been questioned is from which position he can make the biggest impact.

Last season, the answer was at linebacker, where Gallman combined for 46 tackles, including seven sacks, plus an interception in earning third-team All-County honors for the Daily Post, and helping the Rams to the Class AAAAA state championship.

Not that he didn't make big contributions on the offensive end, winding up as Grayson's second-leading rusher with 578 yards and seven touchdowns.

Still, it was his defense that initially put him on the radar of coaching staffs from major college programs.

But this season, Gallman's roles have undergone a bit of a reversal, with offense taking center stage. He currently leads the Rams with 778 yards and 11 TDs on 113 carries. His defensive contributions -- 32 tackles, two sacks and an interception -- are more secondary by comparison.

While those numbers seem somewhat pedestrian, they become more impressive looking at them in context.

For example, in addition to averaging 6.9 yards per carry, Gallman has found the end zone once every 10 times he carries the ball.

Grayson coach Mickey Conn definitely appreciates having a player as versatile, both athletically and mentally, as Gallman to be able to plug in wherever he's needed.

"It's kind of funny because we used Devin Gillespie in the same role last year," Conn said. "He was our main fullback and didn't really sub in as much on defense until the playoffs. Wayne's kind of fallen into that role this year.

"The one thing he's always had -- and one thing you can't coach -- is that fast-twitch muscle quickness. He's so fast and quick to the ball, and he plays so physical, you can do a lot of things with him. And with Wayne, he loves to hit. He loves the contact. He was going to play free safety and running back when he first came (to the varsity team). But he was so aggressive with the run game, we had to move him to linebacker."

It appears his future on the next level of football will be on offense, since Clemson -- which Gallman has given a verbal commitment to sign a scholarship with in February -- has recruited him as a running back.

But to Gallman, it doesn't matter where he plays, as long as he gets on the field.

"Ever since I was 5 years old, I've played every position except quarterback and center," Gallman said. "I've played pretty much everything. ... I was even a kicker once. That was weird. I think I was around 7.

"There's always going to be that one focus for me. I do want to focus at running back, but just for the team. If, in order to get the state championship, I'll focus at outside linebacker when I (need to)."

That team-first attitude is what Conn values most about Gallman, especially on a team filled with as many high-profile stars as Grayson has, such as the nation's top-ranked college prospect in Robert Nkemdiche, plus other Division I commits and prospects like Jack Banda, Zach Barnes, Ryan Carter and David Kamara.

"We've got five or six guys who can carry the ball," Conn said. "The thing about Wayne is, he's also a good blocker, and he understands the scheme. That makes him very valuable and opens things up for guys like Robert (Nkemdiche), Aares (McCall) and Jordan (Germany).

"He's bought in (to the team concept), and they all understand we're a team, and we're trying to win a championship."

The way Gallman sees it, having equally high-profile teammates takes a lot of the pressure off everyone and spreads it around equally.

Besides, he doesn't look at the Rams' other stars as potential rivals looking for glory. He sees them as not only peers striving for a common goal, but also friends and brothers.

And while Nkemdiche and Kamara have since backed off their original verbal commitments to Clemson and reopened their recruitment, the fact they and Gallman and Kamara all initially chose the Tigers, who are also recruiting Carter, has only brought the teammates closer this season.

"We've always been close ever since seventh grade," Gallman said. "But it has made us a little closer. The whole team is closer over this past year. It's just natural."