Terps P.J. Gallo A Wise Investment

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- There were so many beads of sweat, seemingly thousands speckling his face and forehead in near-perfect symmetry, as P.J. Gallo walked off the Terps practice field and stopped for an interview, that at times he had difficulty seeing and speaking he had to keep dabbing so often. Never seen so many.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- There were so many beads of sweat, seemingly thousands speckling his face and forehead in near-perfect symmetry, as P.J. Gallo walked off the Terps practice field last week and stopped for an interview, that at times he had difficulty seeing and speaking he had to keep dabbing so often. Never seen so many.

But hard work and toil is nothing new to the most-level-headed-of-Terps, junior tight end P.J. Gallo, who graduated in three years; worked an intense finance internship in New York City this summer; and capped it all by informing Randy Edsall last week that he would be forsaking his final year of football, in 2016, after accepting a security analyst position with prestigious Goldman-Sachs on Wall Street.

Gallo, the Terps top blocking tight end and one of the football program’s top students with a 3.93 GPA, will play a final season this fall -- and hope to add to his football memories -- which were highlighted last year by his decisive touchdown grab [his first career] at Penn State in the Terps narrow win in his Pennsylvania homecoming.

“I am really excited about it,” Gallo said of the early job offer, “but it was tough. I went and told Coach [Edsall] on Tuesday morning, and it was a tough decision as its two great opportunities. But I discussed it with my family, thought about it, and I think I made a good decision. But it was a hard one, whether take that fifth year [of football] or not. But I feel great about it. It is a dream job for me.”

Said Edsall on the day of the news:

“He does everything that you ask for. He’s really what you look for as a student-athlete,” Edsall said, “in terms of what you want out of the experience. He’s here and contributed, did a good job for us. And while he was here he also…and one of the things we talk about is getting yourself ready for life after football. And not everybody is going to the next level. But eventually everybody has to go work and make a living. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Gallo, who cannot comment much on the new job, even his opening salary next July on Wall Street with the firm, spent his entire UMD career working local internships, like with Raymond James in Silver Spring, to build his financial pedigree to this point.

He is the elder statesman of the Terps fledgling tight end corps, and one that brings steady leadership and mentoring, something he knows much about. He worked and trained (for football) all summer in New York City away from his teammates, at places like NYU, where he stayed in the dorms for two months while working on Wall Street. The internship program had 200 candidates, while he had four rounds of interviews before he was offered the job this month.

“It was a great experience, worked with some unbelievable people, and I worked very hard. Just being in that environment was great all around,” Gallo said.

Gallo’s internship in New York ended on August 7, he moved out of his dorm on Aug. 8, and he reported to Terps camp on the 9th, with practices starting the next day. All part of his ‘summer adventure,’ likely the most unique on the team.

“I was able to keep myself in very good shape. I stayed in touch with the coaches, as well as [Terps strength coach] Drew Wilson, who gave me a program. We got a good program together and I did a lot of work on the weekends, both at NYU and even at Goldman, where they have a really nice gym. They have a lot of ex-athletes who really get after it there,” Gallo said.

Gallo wants to go out with a bang on the field this fall, and has been working with the first unit, along with sophomore Derrick Hayward, as well as fast-rising freshman Avery Edwards. This, all while returning starter Andrew Isaacs continues his knee rehab, which he tore last season at Syracuse. The Terps have more weapons/threats to stretch the field at the position this season, and Gallo remains the best in-line blocker and leader.

“We are all working in there, it is all good, because I think we have a really good group this year,” Gallo said of the ends. “Just seeing the way this group has kind of progressed the last couple of years because we were so young a couple years back. But now Derrick [Hayward] is maturing, growing into his body and doing well. And when Drew [Isaacs] gets back that will be great as he is in great shape. And I think I have been understanding the playbook more, carving out a nice role for myself.”

At 6-2, 250-pounds, Gallo is not going to blow by the defense and run wild in the open field. But he is the Terps’ smartest, savviest end, and one many of the youngsters lean o. He has sure hands, but isn’t always a primary target through the air.

Said the sophomore Hayward, who has come a long way since transforming himself from a defensive end when he first got to UMD:

“Ever since I got here, P.J. has been like the teacher of the group because P.J. is smart and he knows everything there is to know about the offense,” Hayward said. “So if there is something we don’t know, or a play we may need help with, he is the first guy you go to.”

Hayward jokes, when looking back, that Gallo has a lighter side, too. Last year, when they were camp roommates, “he was always asleep by 10 PM and up the next day way before me,” Hayward quipped.

Hayward also has a few “trade secrets” about his mentor, too, such as Gallo likes to talk in his sleep, and he is extremely scared of snakes. “So we would play pranks on him with a fake snake and things like that in the room,” Hayward added.

But on the field it’s all business for Gallo, who takes his craft seriously, though he is never going to run a 4.4 40 like former Terps tight end Vernon Davis.

“I feel I am a guy who can add a lot of value in the run game, who is a hard worker and a smart player, and who can make sure everyone is on the same page. And who understands defenses and running the plays correctly and all those things,” Gallo said.

And as for the newcomer Edwards, who was originally a UNC signee but could not enroll and Maryland added in July [and has been the talk of camp of late], Gallo said:

“Avery, he has had a pretty good camp so far. He is definitely athletic, he goes up and catches the ball nicely, smart kid, and he has caught on pretty quickly. He is definitely a nice add to the group,” Gallo said.

Gallo looks back on his time with nostalgia, but ahead to one last go-round. And the fact the unit will be in good shape as he exits the stage.

“It’s crazy to think this is going to be my last season,” Gallo said. “But I want to go out on a strong note. I want to go out and have a great year, go out on a bowl win, there is no doubt. We haven’t had the chance to do that yet here. But I think we have got a great team and to go out with that would be great.”

Gallo looked back on the Penn State and Michigan games last season, and the overtime win in Blacksburg two years ago over Virginia Tech. His kid brother plays on the defensive line at Tech, while he has two other younger siblings still in high school. This semester, Gallo is taking 400 level finance classes as he wraps his academic career at UMD.

“But looking back, just the whole experience....and being in the locker room, making friendships that are going to last my entire life with a bunch of different guys....would be the favorite part of my whole experience,” he said. “But everyone has been great, everyone has been really supportive. A lot of people texting, congratulating me....and to see that support group that I have was so gratifying. But all the guys I have been going through this since freshman year….that is going to be tough. But all their support really, really helped me because it helped me really realize I made a good decision.”

Said Hayward:

“We are sad to see him go, but then again we are excited for him because he has a great career offer. If you happen to have a chance to have a job like that, well you have to hop on the opportunity.”

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