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View from the 'ville
Thursday, May 3, 2007

By Al Myatt

Trick tryout hooked Galloway for life

By Al Myatt
All rights reserved.

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 Dale Steele.

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 probably pursue."

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 presented."

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 NFL Europe.

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."

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05/03/2007 03:36:02 AM


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