Year Off Made Galloway Better Player
Before the Clemson Tigers’ matchup against Ohio State to open the College Football Playoff last month, sophomore tight end Braden Galloway hadn’t laced up his Nikes for a snap since October 2018.
Just before the postseason, Galloway was suspended for one year by the NCAA for testing positive for ostarine, a type of supplement known as a selective androgen receptor modulator that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Galloway has maintained that he “did nothing wrong.”
The year away from active competition on the field has included a lot of time in the weight room and keeping up to speed on the Tigers’ playbook, Galloway said, noting that he thinks the time off has made him a more solid player.
“I definitely do, and I think power hour is a big reason (for) that,” Galloway said. “We were lifting everyday for an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, and then going to practice. I definitely feel like it made me a stronger player. Also, just watching film on my own when nobody else was in there, talking to (wide receivers) coach (Tyler) Grisham, different things like that.”
He said Clemson has a group of people in place that helped him to stay up to the speed on his technique and the team’s on-field strategies.
”There’s a support staff there that was making sure that I was up to date with the offense even though I wasn’t a part of the offense, and that’s the biggest thing,” Galloway said.
He said his love and appreciation for the game of football also increased during the time off.
“I would definitely say that, just sitting on the sideline and being able to watch the crowd and smaller interactions between players, staff and trainers,” he said. “It was just the joy and appreciation that everybody in the facility and on this team has for one another, and it’s amazing.”
Not being part of real-game competition helped him to notice other elements about the team that, in his mind, make Clemson a special place to play.
“Taking a step back and knowing I didn’t have to perform on the field, I was able to look at other things like relationships and seeing how people were treated, and it was just an amazing thing to see,” Galloway said.
“I appreciate this opportunity and, just, it can be taken away from you in a heartbeat, whether it’s an injury or no matter what you’re doing,” he said.
Galloway, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, only snagged five catches for 52 yards in three games last year.
Although he said the yearlong suspension was a challenging time, he has been able to use the experience as a learning tool.
“It was definitely a rough time, especially for my mom,” he said. “She does so much for me, and I don’t want to lose this opportunity, It was a tough time, but this year has flown by. I’ve learned a lot from it, but I know I didn’t do anything wrong at heart. So I feel fine about it, but it's definitely been a tough year.”
Head coach Dabo Swinney said last fall that Galloway has used the time admirably, supporting his team and helping where he can in practice.
"Braden has done a really nice job," Swinney said. "He’s been a great teammate. I’ve been really proud of him. I’ve kept my eye on him all fall camp and all through the season because that’s hard when you’re good enough to go play. It’s not like you’re hurt, but you can’t play.”
"I just really like how he’s handled himself,” Swinney added. “He has been an excellent teammate. He really has. He’s gone over there on (the) scout team and done a great job over there. He’s really been a great help and encouragement to the other tight ends, and he’s just stayed engaged."
Galloway was quiet in Clemson’s comeback win against Ohio State in the semifinal round of the College Football Playoff, but he finished strong in the loss to LSU in the national title game, contributing 60 yards receiving, including a career-long 42-yard catch.
He said he made it through the experience largely because of his faith and the support he received from players and coaches at Clemson.
“Honestly, the people at Clemson, I feel like if I would’ve went — I was looking back on this earlier — if I would’ve went to another school where it’s just about football, like I don’t think I could’ve went through this (this) past year,” Galloway said. “People still supporting me. … I wasn’t able to perform on the field. I was still treated like every other player out there. It was cool to see that perspective because you were like, ‘Maybe if something happened to me.' Maybe you go down with an injury or something. It’s not the same, but you get treated the same.”