A bag was hit, and a dad who had unfortunately signed up to volunteer as a coach that week was on the ground. Standing over him was none other than five-year-old Wayne Gallman.
“I remember that first day of practice,” said the Loganville, Ga., native. “We had to practice with the bags, and one of the dads was holding the bag. When I hit it, he went down.
“Every week I would knock a different dad over, so they started to have challenges to see which dad could withstand my hit.”
Football practice would tucker out a young Gallman, luckily for his mother, Felicia Sheard. By his own admission, Gallman was a “wild child.”
“When I was younger, I was the devil child,” he admitted. “My mom will gladly tell anyone that. I would run through walls with my head or crack doors. I was a good child…just wild.
“Any of my mom’s friends look at me now and say how I am a completely different person. I have completely calmed down, but that just came with maturity.”
While Gallman may be calm off the field, on the field for the Tigers is a completely different story. Fans can recall shuddering in their seats during many moments last season when Gallman would fly up the field and make contact with another player.
“Being wild did help me get where I am now with physicality,” said #9. “I have a strength inside of me that releases on the field that can’t be overcome.”
Before he was the Tigers’ star running back setting Clemson’s single-season rushing record with 1,527 yards in 2015, Gallman was a linebacker who liked to run fast and hit anything in his path, regardless of what happened to the ball.
“There were so many times back in middle and elementary school when I ran the ball but I would fumble because I was too focused on hitting. I had no ball security and I was just a fast kid who liked to hit. Coaches loved that, but it didn’t set me up to be a great running back.”
Gallman’s experience as a linebacker helped him develop the physicality he needed to take his running game to another level. He began to play running back at powerful Grayson High School, but he utilized the extra training at Clemson to excel.
“When I got to Clemson, I really started to develop my running back skills,” said Gallman. “You can’t expect to beat everyone around the edge…you have to learn how to set your feet and other necessary skills.”
After being pursued by schools across the Southeast, Gallman chose Clemson on a gut feeling one ordinary school night.
“One night I just knew it in my head that I was supposed to be at Clemson and I didn’t shy away from it. I called coach Chad Morris late that night and told him I was ready to commit.
“It was just a regular school night, but something told me it was time.”
Along with the football program, Gallman felt at home at Clemson, which ultimately played into his decision to commit.
“I decided to come to Clemson because the coaches were so different. What I love here is the family mentality. Clemson was, and is, a place where I could create a legacy. I knew that I could grow like I wanted if I came here. I had that vision, and I am glad it is working out so far.”
As the 2015 season progressed, Gallman began to earn recognition for his achievements, and along with those achievements came a new nickname for the running back, “Wayne Train.”
While Gallman was not thrilled at first, he grew to respect the name and the fans who gave it to him.
“At first I wasn’t crazy about it because it was kind of corny, but I am really taking a hold of it now,” explained Gallman. “This is the name that Clemson has given me and I really respect that. People see me as the ‘Wayne Train,’ and that is fine with me.”
While he may hope to leave the nickname behind, Gallman does have something he wants to leave in Clemson.
“I want to be the greatest running back to ever come through Clemson. I remember telling a coach at the beginning of my career that one day I wanted my name to be up in the stadium with the other greats.”
Gallman’s exploits led to a number of accolades following the Tigers’ 14-1 season that saw them reach the national championship game. He was an All-ACC selection, the latest in a long line of Tiger running backs. He shared the team’s most valuable offensive player honor with quarterback Deshaun Watson, a testament to his respect from coaches and teammates.
After his outstanding season, he had a chance to leave Clemson for the NFL in December as a third-year sophomore, but something in his heart stopped him.
“During the NFL process, I had the opportunity to leave, but there was something in my heart telling me that I was leaving something behind here. I really wanted to graduate and I will do that in December. That was always my goal coming into college. My mom was the first person to graduate from her family. She really stepped up and showed me how I should lead people and do things to better myself.”
Gallman also wants to continue to learn and hone his craft before he steps foot on a professional playing field.
“I want to be ready for the NFL. I don’t want to show up there and say I made it. I want to do everything I can to be at the top of my position and to be the best Wayne Gallman I can be.”
To be the best he can be, Gallman looks to his parents for inspiration in life.
“My mom is the most important influence in my life. I would do anything for her. My dad is like my brother. We talk about everything, and every problem I have I bring to him. They are two big role models for me in my life and provide a great example of how I want to lead people by just being myself.”
Being himself is one of the most important skills Gallman’s parents taught him and is something he hopes to teach others.
“There is a whole big concept of who is real and who is fake going on in the world right now. There are a lot of people out there trying to portray themselves as someone else or trying to fit in different groups.
“But the main thing I have learned is to always be yourself and don’t ever change. Life is not hard once you do that. People will either like you or not like you, but when you are yourself, those things won’t bother you anymore.”
Gallman has approached his final season with the Tigers with no regrets and a plan to make the most of every moment. When he steps away from campus and into the future, he hopes to leave only one thing behind.
“I want to be a great leader for the team and show people what Clemson is all about. I want people to remember Wayne Gallman.”