Mitchell Galloway was a sophomore at
newly-consolidated Marlboro County High in South Carolina with a
closed mind to football. He had played on the Pee Wee and Pop Warner
levels as a youth but he planned to concentrate on baseball and
basketball in high school.
"It seemed like there were thousands of guys playing football,"
Galloway said. "I didn't feel like I had a chance. I would have been
the tiniest guy out there. It just seemed like a good idea to pursue
basketball and baseball at the time."
But Marlboro basketball coach Fred
David and football coach Reed Charpia conspired to get Galloway into
the football program because of his athletic ability.
"I thought I was going to
basketball practice," Galloway recalled. "(Coach David) had pretty
much conned me to come in. He had told Coach Charpia he had a kid
who could probably help out the team. He told Coach Charpia he was
going to get me out there to play.
"That's pretty much how it all
started. He tricked me to come out there. He told me it was going to
be basketball practice. But once I got out there he got shoulder
pads and a helmet ready for me to play.
"He told me to try it for one day.
If I liked it, I could continue to play. If I didn't like it, I
could hang it up."
That was 17 years ago and Galloway
still hasn't hung it up. The former East Carolina star is one of the
top receivers for the Fayetteville Guard, which is off to a 4-0
start in the National Indoor Football League.
"I had no intentions of playing
football, whatsoever," Galloway said of his high school
indoctrination. "Well, I tried out that one day and everything
seemed to come natural on the field. I was pretty much the fastest
out there at that time. That was how it all started.
"I was tricked into coming out for
high school football practice but I just fell in love with it. I
fell in love with the game and was fortunate and blessed enough to
get an opportunity to play for the Pirates."
Galloway thought he was headed to
South Carolina to play college football but his showing in an
all-star setting caught the eye of then-ECU recruiting coordinator
The Naval Academy was also in the
picture and The Citadel had showed interest.
"East Carolina pretty much came on
board at the end," Galloway said. "Coach Steele said he went back
and told Coach (Steve) Logan that there was a kid that they should
Galloway said he was originally set
on going to South Carolina. Navy was his next choice.
"When it came down to signing day,
South Carolina was only going to offer me a partial scholarship,"
Galloway said. "They pretty much gave the scholarship to another
receiver. They were going to offer me a partial. I really wanted to
go to South Carolina at the time, but it was pretty much my father's
decision at that time."
Earl Galloway, Sr., wasn't going to
let the Gamecocks get his son for less than a full football grant.
"I had a full ride to the Naval
Academy and we were just going to go elsewhere," Mitchell Galloway
said. "The South Carolina deal fell through. I got a visit from the
Naval Academy recruiter, but I really didn't like what they
The hang-up for Galloway was a
five-year post-graduate military service commitment following
graduation at Annapolis.
"East Carolina came on board and I
jumped at the opportunity," Galloway said.
He played for ECU from 1993 to
1996. One of his highlights as a Pirate came in 1994 when East
Carolina played at South Carolina.
"It was actually on my birthday
(Oct. 8)," he said. "I got a chance to meet Brad Scott, who was the
head coach at that time. We talked briefly about the circumstances
that caused me to go to East Carolina instead of South Carolina. I
told him the whole story I just got through telling you.
"He was just apologizing for the
talent he felt like he lost at that time — that he wished he had."
ECU outscored the Gamecocks 56-42
in that matchup in Columbia before a crowd of 70,075.
"That was (running back) Junior
Smith and the crew," Galloway said. "It was a shootout. I would up
scoring three touchdowns that game. I beat a couple of the guys that
I actually played high school ball with that actually got
scholarships there at South Carolina. That was a highlight — my
birthday and my first time coming back to South Carolina to play in
front of the home crowd.
"Another one would be my last game
at East Carolina. I broke the all-time reception record (for
receiving yards). Of course, that's been broken since then. But that
was a highlight — and getting a standing ovation by the crowd."
When Galloway finished ECU, he was
the school career leader in receptions (131) and receiving yards
(1,754). Jason Nichols, who played from 1994-97, and Terrance
Copper, who performed from 2000-03, subsequently moved ahead of
Galloway in career receptions with 152 and 139, respectively. Troy
Smith, who completed his ECU career in 1998, went past Galloway in
career receiving yards with 1,982.
In his final game as a Pirate,
Galloway had four catches for 70 yards in a 19-13 Liberty Bowl
triumph over Stanford.
After college, Galloway and his
agent made a very astute deduction that his best chance to make it
as a free agent in the NFL would be with the Buffalo Bills — because
of the age of their receiving corps. Galloway went to camp with the
Bills with an attitude that he had nothing to lose and made the
Bills' initially as a member of the practice squad.
He ended up being an active player
and saw action in three games, making two punt returns and six
kickoff returns. His salary was the league minimum at the time,
prorated by game. Galloway sought to further develop his talents in
When he returned to the Bills, club
officials had decided they were going in a different direction with
their receivers — looking for more size than the 5-foot-8,
178-pounder from ECU.
But Galloway continued his career
in arena football, joining up with the Raleigh-based Carolina
Cobras, who were owned by ECU alumnus Roddy Jones. When Jones later
started an arena team in Fayetteville, he summoned Galloway again.
Galloway is still playing the arena
game with the Guard at age 32. He practices with the team about
twice a week when he can get away from his position as a loan
officer with a Hartsfield, SC-based financial institution.
"I still enjoy playing for the fans
but I've been thinking that each season for the last three years
would be my last," Galloway said.
Galloway and former Wake Forest
receiver Jamie Deese, who played at Scotland County, call themselves
"Batman and Robin."
"If it wasn't for Jamie Deese and
Coach Charles Gunnings, I wouldn't be playing this year," he said.
"I'm 99 percent sure that this is my last year and, if we win the
league championship, that will confirm the other one percent."