'Wayne Train': Clemson RB Gallman provides QB major assist
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Quarterback Deshaun Watson is certainly the face of No. 1 Clemson's high-powered offense. Then there's the broad, strong shoulders of running back Wayne Gallman, who powers the Tigers' ground attack on long drives.
The redshirt sophomore, nicknamed the ''Wayne Train,'' has rushed for 1,332 yards and 10 TDs this season. He is just a modest burst away from Raymond Priester's single-season school mark of 1,345 set in 1996.
That might come when the Tigers (13-0) face No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1) in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Eve for a spot in the national championship game.
If Clemson gets to the title game, expect Gallman to be a big reason why.
He has already eclipsed the Clemson record with eight 100-yard games this season, surpassing the seven of Priester (1996) and Kenny Flowers (1985).
Gallman, at 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, has a powerful strength that's seen him extend two- and three-yard carries into first-down runs.
''I have a grit about myself,'' Gallman says.
That's apparent this season.
Gallman was part of a non-descript pack of Tiger runners last season trying to break through to the top. He found his stride late in the season, rushing for 579 of his team-high 769 yards in the final six games.
He entered this season on top of the depth chart and ground his way among Clemson's very best at his position. Gallman's totals this season are more than NFL standouts C.J. Spiller and Andre Ellington ever rushed for in one season with the Tigers.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Gallman's development comes with maturing and understanding what it takes to excel at this level.
''Father Time taking place,'' Swinney said. ''Gallman just grew up.''
Gallman's play opens things up for Watson and the Tigers' receivers. With defenses focused on Gallman's running, it allows Clemson's speedy wide outs like Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, Artavis Scott, Charone Peake and Hunter Renfrow to slip behind the secondary, co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott has said.
Tight end Jordan Leggett has also benefited from Gailman's production with seven of his 34 receptions this season going for touchdowns.
Watson has run behind Gallman's crunching blocks several times
''He's worked hard and been a big part of what we do,'' said Watson, second on the team with 887 yards rushing.
In the run up to the Orange Bowl, the spotlight will fall on Oklahoma's backfield, which features runners Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon who have combined for 2,040 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground this season.
Gallman accepts he'll be the game's ''other'' back, much like he has much of the year with the focus on Clemson's passing game.
''It's been happening all season, people been doubting,'' Gallman said. ''All that stuff doesn't really matter.''
Gallman said a significant reason for his success this season is Clemson's revived offensive line. Long a weak-point for the Tigers, the group of five new starters has developed into a major force - with all five starters and tight end Leggett making one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's three all-league teams earlier this month.
Center Jay Guillermo said Gallman tells the lineman what he sees from his vantage point, things the guys up front can use to improve their performance on the next drive.
''We all want to make things better,'' Guillermo said. ''We really want Wayne to do well.''
Gallman's play this season has him facing a decision if he wants to return or take his powerful running style to the next level. Among Clemson's commitments next spring is five-star running back Tavian Feaster of Spartanburg, who figures to chew up many carries in the Tigers backfield next season.
That's for after the season, Gallman said. His focus is on finishing off a 15-0 season and bringing a national championship back to Clemson.
''We're all in on what we're doing right now,'' he said. ''We can't get sidetracked. We have big games ahead.''