- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are no guarantees that he will start. There are too many running backs competing for carries right now.
But every day, Wayne Gallman looks at all the rushing records in the running backs' meeting room and thinks big. Really big.
He now has the confidence to do so.
When last season began, Gallman had a limited role as he continued to learn the offense. Expectations were high, given all his talent. But Gallman was slow to get started, stuck in gear without much of a push to get going.
Then the second half of the season unfolded. Gallman ran for 610 yards in the final seven games of the season. His three 100-yard games came in the final six, including 191 yards in a victory over rival South Carolina. In the final six games, he averaged 5.2 yards per carry.
“I just feel like I got a lot more comfortable with the whole system, and really just trusted myself and what I can do to help the offense and just having fun and having a positive mindset,” Gallman said.
How did he make the switch?
“At the beginning of the year, it was hard trying to deal with a lot,” Gallman said. “Everybody was expecting me to just come in, help out and do all these things. It didn’t work out that way. It came in practice, having to learn how to control my speed, just talking to Coach [Dabo] Swinney how to control myself running the ball. Then I just let it out at the end of the season.”
Gallman ended up leading the team with 769 yards rushing. But for the Tigers, that was a step back in production. Clemson had problems getting a consistent ground game going, ranking No. 9 in the ACC. Clemson averaged 146.5 yards rushing per game, its lowest average since 2010.
The hope is that all changes this year, given the depth Clemson now has in the backfield. In addition to Gallman, Clemson returns Zac Brooks, C.J. Davidson, Adam Choice and Tyshon Dye. Redshirt freshman C.J. Fuller also has turned heads so far this spring.
That is why coaches cannot make any guarantees with the starting position. Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told reporters earlier this week that it was way too early to make any determinations because they want to see the competition play out.
Gallman knows all that.
“I have to compete, and I know my position is always up for grabs,” Gallman said. “I’ve got to win my position every day we come out for practice.”
Still, the way he finished last season has given him a completely different outlook during practice this spring. He also has a renewed comfort level knowing Elliott – his position coach since he arrived – is now the coordinator.
“I want to sound humble, but I’m actually very confident in myself because I’m getting glimpses of what I know I can do, and I’m trying to get better every day in practice,” he said.
Can he be a 1,000-yard rusher?
“Yes, ma’am. No doubt,” he said. “The goal is always to be the best in whatever you do, so in the running back room for all the running backs in there, I know our standard is to be the best.”
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