There is a connecting bond, a strengthening mutual understanding between Clemson tight end Braden Galloway and position coach Danny Pearman.
Both were involved in situations that created dark clouds over the program. Skies seem clear now, but there might not be two people at Clemson more ready for their college football season to kick off Sept. 12 at Wake Forest.
Galloway, an Anderson native who went to Seneca High School about 10 miles away from Clemson, was suspended by the NCAA for a year after he tested positive for trace amounts of ostarine, a banned substance similar to anabolic steroids typically used to generate lean muscle and strength. He missed nearly all of the 2019 season, returning for the national semifinals game against Ohio State and the championship against LSU.
Pearman recently issued an apology for using a racial slur during a practice in 2017. That story broke in early June during the rise of Black Lives Matter protests across the country. Former Tigers player Kanyon Tuttle, responding on Twitter to a call of support and solidarity by Clemson athletics, told of the incident and said, “Stop protecting your brand, take a stand.”
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That will not be a catchy slogan for Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, who is known for such things. He has faced his own criticisms for apparently not disciplining Pearman and then, to a lesser extent but perhaps still tone-deaf, for being photographed wearing a “Football Matters” T-shirt less than two weeks after the killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police.
As far as Clemson goes, innocent missteps, according to Galloway.
“I know what kind of guy and person Coach Pearman is,” Galloway said Tuesday night after practice. “So that was something that just went through one ear and out the other. Obviously, there are things going on in the world that just aren’t right. … Coach Pearman is very sympathetic to how we feel. He has talked specifically to me and Jalen (Lay, redshirt freshman from Atlanta) because we’re the only African-American tight ends and just made sure that everything was clear.
“(Pearman) reached out and made sure we knew how he felt about it and how he felt about us. I feel like that was very important. He could have very easily let it blow over and not said anything about it. I probably wouldn’t have addressed it because I know how he has treated me and other African-Americans on the team. That’s not really anything I have ever questioned.”
Galloway said Swinney addressed the team a few times about the incident and that Pearman did the same in a virtual meeting.
“I feel like guys understood,” Galloway said. “… It was just a mistake. He’s forgiven.”
Galloway is hoping he is also forgiven, although he has not admitted to making any mistakes. He was suspended along with former teammates Dexter Lawrence and Zach Giella after the positive drug tests late in the 2018 season. Lawrence, a defensive end, immediately turned pro and now plays for the New York Giants. Giella, a junior offensive lineman at the time, lost his final year of eligibility.
Galloway returned last season to play 33 snaps in the Fiesta Bowl victory against Ohio State and had two catches, including a 42-yarder, in the national championship game against LSU. A former high school quarterback, he was considered the No. 1 tight end and the No. 13 overall player in the state by a recruiting website.
His major is sports communication and he’s gotten some valuable practice in that field as well as the football field.
“To the day that I die, I’m going to say that I didn’t do anything wrong,” Galloway said. “I don’t think I did anything wrong at all.”
“I’ve moved on from it. There’s no point in looking at the past. There is nothing I can do about it now. Regardless of whether they (NCAA officials) were right or whether they were wrong, they made a decision. It happened.
“Now, more than ever, I’m not focused on outside noise. A lot of people had things to say. But at the end of the day, you’re playing with your brothers.”
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