Good news and disappointing news
by Jim Buzzerd
The West Virginia University football team, along with head coach Neal Brown and his staff received some very positive news last week when Top 100 football player Rodney Gallagher committed to the Mountaineers. Gallagher will be a senior this fall at Laurel Highlands High School in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Gallagher chose West Virginia over Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Penn State and Virginia Tech, each of which he visited in the spring. Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas were also in his top listed eight.
High school player rankings have not been around forever, and they have evolved since they began, but it seems a consensus opinion that he is a Top Ten recruit to commit to WVU, possibly Top Five. Ultimately, it’s not what you’re rated when you arrive, but what you do when you get there that matters. Nevertheless, good recruits can only help with class rankings and getting other top recruits. One service now has the 2023 class inside the Top 20.
Gallagher was recruited as a receiver even though he was forced to play quarterback in his junior season and completed 104 of 179 passes for 1,365 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he ran for 1,130 yards and 21 touchdowns. On defense he also made 30 solo tackles, intercepted five passes, averaged 22.1 yards on nine punt returns, including one for a touchdown. On the basketball court, he averaged 18.6 points per game as a junior as Laurel Highlands went 27-1.
There have been indications from Brown and WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins that they would not object to Gallagher playing both sports in Morgantown, that seems unlikely to work seamlessly in the modern era, but it is something to keep an eye on. Also, he is listed at 5-11, 160 so it makes sense that he’ll be asked to bulk up a bit. That size is small by today’s standards, so Gallagher’s skills must jump off the charts for him to be that highly rated and pursued by heavyweight programs.
Part of the lure to Morgantown was the proximity to campus is just 20 minutes from Gallagher’s Pennsylvania home, but Brown and staff get credit too.
“For me and my position, it’s really the best fit,” he said. “You have guys graduating, so I think I have a chance to play right away there. Just the fit there, and the campus right there, 20 minutes away from me, my family can be there for me whenever I need them mentally, and just the relationships I have with coach Neal (Brown) and the whole staff have been great, and I am getting closer and closer with them.”
He plans to do a little recruiting on his own too. “I am going to try and bring in anyone who is actually interested in the school,” he said. “I don’t want to bother anyone who is not actually going to be interested, but I am going to try and get the best of the best here at West Virginia.” The Mountaineer baseball team had to deal with disappointment Monday when they learned they would not be in the NCAA Baseball Tournament’s field of 64.
The Mountaineers finished 33-22, but two and out in last week’s Big 12 Tournament combined with a number of upsets in other conference tournaments did WVU in. The Mountaineers entered the tournament 35th in the RPI and after the dust settled WVU had dropped to 49th. Especially hurtful was the 8-5 game two loss to Kansas State, a team they swept three games from just days earlier.