COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- He's only a sophomore, but man, Terps tight end P.J. Gallo is ahead of his time.
Gallo, who leads the team with a 3.95 GPA and last month was honored by CoSida for Big Ten academic all-district along with junior safety Zach Dancel, had a typical P.J. Gallo day last month. But maybe not for every sophomore out there, so says Terps senior center Sal Conaboy.
"The other day he was heading out so I said, 'Where are you going?' He said, 'Oh, I got an interview,"' Conaboy related. "I said, 'Aren't you just like a junior?' He's like, 'Nah, you can never start too early.' So he's a bright kid, smart kid, and no matter what he does he is going to be successful."
That sums up Gallo, who despite only 2 catches for 13 yards and a score (in his Pennsylvania homecoming, fortunately, at Penn State Nov. 1) has his stuff together more than most college sophomores, be it on the field or off.
Last game the Maryland seniors were feted, and there was much to give thanks for during Thanksgiving for all Terps as they finished their home careers Nov. 29 against Rutgers. But Gallo is a beacon for the program when looked at "big picture."
Gallo, a finance major who interned last summer for a top local investment firm with former Terp Todd Wike, is always a step ahead. In fact, he and Conaboy often toss about business ideas they have for the future, both possessing that entrepreneurial spirit.
"I was just kind of talking to some people for some summer internships, some finance and business stuff like that," Gallo said. "It's never too early to network and we....t's a tremendous alumni network that we have here. And I like to make the most of it by reaching out to people as much as I can."
Gallo, whose younger brother is a freshman center at Virginia Tech and playing this season as a backup, has a lot of academic and business success in the family. Pops is in pharmaceutical sales, mom is a teacher. P.J. Gallo takes at Maryland, class-wise, a staggering load: Corporate Finance, Financial Statement Analysis, Personal Finance, Information Systems, and Managing People and Organization.
In fact, at Maryland in the classroom, Gallo, tight end Brian McMahon, Dancel, place kicker Adam Greene and lineman Maurice Shelton round out the top five academic wonks. On the field, he has been a part of the 'next man up' movement with starters going down again this season.
"We fool around, talk about different stuff, but none I can talk about," Conaboy said with a laugh of his future business ideas with Gallo. Conaboy is hardly shabby himself, with a 3.67 GPA in supply chain management.
And by far the biggest on-field moment this year for Gallo was his 2-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Brown in the second quarter en route to Maryland's 20-19 win at Beaver Stadium to end a long trail of misery in the series with PSU. It was his first career score, while he got his first start at Indiana. Gallo had lots of family, friends (including friends that attend Penn State) in attendance, and Gallo (a Holland, Pa., native) received all sorts of postgame texts and calls.
"It was a tremendous experience, to be able to go back to my home state, for us to get a win, for me to score a touchdown as well. Just an unbelievable experience." Gallo said. "I had to pinch myself, really, after it happened. It couldn't have happened at a better place."
"I was really happy for him," Conaboy said. "I think someone called it out in the huddle, I think it might have been Jake Wheeler when C.J. called the play. He said 'get ready for the touchdown,' and he got the touchdown and we were all pretty excited for him, happy for him, and you could tell he was happy. He was home and everything, and that game meant a lot to him."
In true business-like manner, Gallo soaked up the fun but moved on a day later as Michigan State week loomed for the Terps.
Gallo has only started two games this season, with redshirt freshman Derrick Hayward more of a field-stretcher, though still raw himself. But Gallo takes great pride in what he does, stats notwithstanding. He only has one "MA" (missed assignment) this season, which occurred during his first start at Indiana.
"I definitely see myself progressing every day," Gallo said. "Just getting better, and taking pride in the fact I don't make mental mistakes. And taking pride in the fact that I go as hard as I can on every play and being physical while doing it. Really being a tough player, someone who is giving 110 percent effort on every play, and doing what Coach asks me to do."
Gallo is a junior academically, on schedule to graduate next fall.
"And the mental part of the game just goes so far beyond that," Gallo said. "Beyond knowing assignments, its understanding what the defense is doing and seeing what you saw on film and how they are going to move and to where. And all those different things, what they are going to do in all the different situations, that is what I take pride in."
Gallo still wants to become more of a threat catching the ball and stretching the field, which he said is an on-going process. He is the Terps best assignment and blocking tight end on a young unit that lost starter and top all-around threat Andrew Isaacs two months ago to knee surgery.
"As a player, I would love to become more of a vertical threat in the passing game," Gallo said. "Be that tight end that can stretch the field vertically. I think that is something I need to work on and improve on. Speed, technique, second-level releases, different route running techniques. I am sure I can improve there, and that would make me a much better player."
Gallo didn't quite get a game ball at Penn State, "but I should have held onto that one," he quipped. He was the only Terp out on the route, with the others in blocking on a play-action fake to running back Wes Brown, when C.J. Brown dumped the ball over a PSU linebacker's head and into Gallo's hands for the key score.
"But I will have the memories of that forever," Gallo said.
P.J. Gallo Ahead Of His Time
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