Wayne Gallman came down the pipeline from Grayson, Ga., knowing full well where he belonged.
One of three former high school teammates on the Clemson roster, Gallman was a running back and linebacker at Grayson, and scouts liked him on both sides of the ball.
“At either position, he flashes some big-play ability,” ESPN.com wrote in 2012, describing his running style. “At times he looks more explosive on defense.”
Gallman wasn’t buying the pitch for defense.
“I’ve always wanted to be a running back, man. I’m a running back,” he said. “In high school, coming off the edge was easy.”
And Clemson wasn’t trying to pitch it.
“We recruited him as a running back all the way,” coach Dabo Swinney said.
At a time when depth at linebacker is tissue thin, Swinney hasn’t changed his mind.
“We knew he was going to have to transition a little bit into the backfield,” he said, “but we felt he could be a special talent at running back.”
Preparing for his sophomore season after leading Clemson in rushing as a redshirt freshman, Gallman looks every bit the part of the confident frontrunner in a field of six.
Forced by injuries a year ago to reach down its depth chart, Clemson discovered a dependable answer for a running game begging for someone to take charge. Gallman did just that, rushing for 769 yards and four touchdowns — 191 yards and one of those touchdowns coming against South Carolina.
Gallman began to command the attention of his coaches practicing with the scout team and during bowl practice the previous year.
“Every time I come out here I have the opportunity to get better,” he said. “So I work on everything every day.”
C.J. Davidson came back for his final season with a purpose. Redshirt freshman C.J. Fuller made a dramatic move up the depth chart the first two weeks of practice. Zac Brooks, Adam Choice and Tyshon Dye are in varying stages of recovery from injuries but should be ready to contribute.
Each has distinctive styles and strengths, but all want a chance at what belonged to Gallman last season.
“I don’t think it troubles me,” he said of the competition. “It pushes me to get better. I know what I bring to the game. My goal is to be an every down ballplayer.”
Swinney and his offensive coordinators have confidence in all six.
“I think we can win with all those guys,” Swinney said. “That’s probably not the answer you want. I would have no problem with any of those guys we’ve got right now.
“It is a good problem to have, but the biggest thing with that group is there’s a great chemistry. I think Wayne has earned the right to be the first guy.”
At this stage of preseason, seeing the same “opponent” becomes an exercise in tedium, and like his teammates Gallman isn’t eager to face the Clemson defense every day.
“Yes,” he said with a smile and a bit of exasperation. “They know everything.”
Linebacker Kendall Joseph underwent surgery over the weekend to repair a meniscus. Swinney anticipates him returning quickly to an already thin position. Punter Andy Teasdall and long snapper Jim Brown were awarded scholarships this week. … Brown was recovering from a concussion when it was announced … Receiver Mike Williams returned to practice … With classes beginning Wednesday, Tuesday was the final camp session.