When you play for one of the top high school football programs in Florida, people just expect you to be good. With that being said, in order to stand out amongst that group, being good usually isn't good enough. You have to be great. Lincoln High seems to be loaded this year with players that fit that description to a tee, Rodney Gallon definitely being amongst them. He's a physical and fast linebacker, who's popularity has already hit the midwest.
What makes Rodney so popular though? Well, the 170 tackles, 7 sacks and 14 tackles for losses last season certainly don't hurt, but even in this class of team, those stats are very good, but don' set you apart from everyone else. What separates Rodney aren't ‘just' those numbers, it's his attitude towards the game. "I am very quick and explosive." Rodney stated. "I am a very speedy, side-to-side linebacker."
"Plus, I'm a headhunter."
A headhunter? That sound serious and you would be right, because off the field, Rodney is about as personable as they come, devout and very quick to compliment his teammates for his success, but on the field, well, just listen to what Rodney had to say of his intentions when wide-open shots on players avail themselves to him. "I want to kill him." Rodney said. "I want the crowd to say ‘ohhh', I want to hit him and I want to hurt him."
"There's no love on the field and I don't trust anyone on the opposite side of the ball. They are trying to take me out, so I am going to take them out. I love it."
If you were going down a checklist of things you look for in a defensive player and somewhere amidst that list, you have the selection "aggressiveness", forget about just putting a check mark there. Instead, put a check mark, an X, a big red dot or just about anything else you can imagine, because if you want a take no prisoner attitude, Rodney Gallon has got all that and more to spare.
It really is almost an illustration of the supposed duality of man, a person that can literally share two minds in one body. With Gallon though, it's like many football players you hear about that have that switch, when they are not playing, friendly, congenial and downright cuddly, but on the field, you could be their mother and it just wouldn't matter.
It's on and if you aren't on our side, you're on the wrong side.
That attitude and athleticism to make it a potent weapon is just one example of why Rodney finds himself with offers from schools like Florida State, Nebraska and Tennessee. It's the full package that Gallon brings to the table, but as much as you might be eerily surprised at his "kill ‘em all" attitude on the field, you would be equally as warm to his personal side off the field.
Even now, Rodney is still in awe.
"During the month of May, I could only like get one phone call from coaches, but it was still crazy." Rodney said. "I mean, I could be on a date or something and the phone would just ring and these coaches would tell me all about their school, why they want me and it's just all real special to me."
It's special because as good as Rodney is right now or how he is perceived, Rodney isn't the type to admit that he is that good, nor that he actually deserves all the attention he is getting. "I'm blessed." Rodney said. "I am very blessed. I prayed that things like this could happen and I worked hard, but I never thought that a big-time school would come after me or want me to play for them."
"When I was younger, I just hoped that if I worked hard, did good in school, I would just get into a good college and get my education and now that I've made it this far, now I just have to work harder and put all my focus into my team."
A team the likes of the one Rodney plays for has demands. Such that it's not like normal atmospheres where if you are good, you will probably see the field. At Lincoln High, again, good isn't quite good enough. You have to be the best. Plus, you also have to be concentrated solely on the team.
That brings one interesting note about not only Rodney, but every single football player for Lincoln High and it's a deal that the players made with the head coach. As any coach that sees a possible title on the horizon wants outside distractions at a minimum, the players recognize that as well and made an agreement with the coach that in respect to that, nothing concerning any decision towards any school at the next level would be decided before or during the year. It's an agreement that actually has players like Rodney relieved, because he doesn't know what to do as it is. "I have no idea right now." Rodney said. "There are so many schools, so many great opportunities, I need a lot of time to sit down and look things over. I know though that in the end, I have to follow my heart."
Rodney says his heart will lead him to the right decision, but he knows that there is one thing that is important to him that can at least narrow the list of schools down to a degree. "Football is my love, that's my talent and that's my passion, plus I was given a gift to be able to play, but I'm not hung up on it, because I know that no matter what happens, that education is what will get me through." Rodney said.
Though Gallon is firm to his agreement with his coach on not making any decisions now, Rodney has made a tentative list of those schools he would like to officially visit when the time comes around. Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Auburn and Nebraska are those schools that top his list currently and Rodney stated that in two weeks, he's taking an unofficial to the University of North Carolina.
It's interesting when you talk about Gallon and wonder what's being said in that you would have to literally ask in what facet. Gallon comes off as an incredible talent with an unbridled ferocity, but appears to be almost completely opposite when the helmet and pads are off. His diversity it would seem knows no bounds, physically or mentally.
Each aspect though has made him a rising star and considering the team he is on, to get noticed, it would have to be an almost meteoric rise at that. Gallon isn't just a junior to watch, he'll be a senior to salivate over when his final season begins.
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619
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