Former Apopka receiver Jeremy Gallon never let his 5-foot-7 stature deter him from overachieving what many thought he could not accomplish at Michigan. He plays in the East-West Shrine Bowl in St. Petersburg today. (SENTINEL FILE/GETTY IMAGES)
Despite spending his last four years playing in front over 100,000 people at “The Big House” in Ann Arbor, Mich., wide receiver Jeremy Gallon made it clear that he always kept track of what the Blue Darters did.
Gallon said he kept in touch with Apopka head coach Rick Darlington regularly and always made sure not to miss out on much with his alma mater.
“I’m still close with coach Darlington and my quarterbacks and the coaches on the staff,” Gallon said. “I don’t miss out on any games.”
And hopefully most Apopka residents didn’t miss out on Gallon’s heroics while at Michigan. He was in St. Petersburg this week preparing for today's East-West Shrine Game, which is at Tropicana Field (NFL Nework, 4 p.m.).
Gallon became an quick impact player at Michigam, catching a 64-yard touchdown pass against Notre Dame as a redshirt sophomore in 2011, and he finished his senior year as the Wolverines’ single-season receiving yardage leader with 1,373.
In between Gallon proved to be one of the conference’s most explosive players. His nine catches and 145 yards against South Carolina in the 2013 Outback Bowl got him on the Biletnikoff Award watch list and then Gallon proceeded to set new career highs three more times as a senior while smashing several school records.
“I feel really blessed to have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from the University of Michigan,” Gallon said. “I truly have no regrets about the way my career has gone.”
Recruited by Rich Rodriguez, Gallon was expected to be a major cog in Rodriguez’s famed spread offense. By 2011, Rodriguez and his spread were out for Brady Hoke and a more traditional style of offense.
While much could not have been expected from the 5-foot-7 Gallon in a pro-style offense that favors taller receivers who can stretch the field, he quickly proved his doubters wrong. Gallon led the Wolverines in catches and yards as a junior and senior.
He set school single-game records for catches (14) and yards (369) in a victory over Indiana on Oct. 19. The 369 yards is second all-time in NCAA Division I FBS history.
But don’t expect the mild-mannered Gallon to boast about his records or proving doubters wrong. He just sticks to the work ethic he carried to Ann Arbor with him from Apopka.
“When I first got to Michigan it was all about learning the books and listening to the coaches,” Gallon said. “By the time coach Hoke arrived I knew what I needed to do to get on the field and I just needed to work hard and compete for that opportunity.”
Gallon already has an invite to the combine and will continue his training in Indiana after participating in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field.
“The scouts are definitely going to be checking my speed, that’s one thing they are concerned about,” Gallon said. “But they like the fact that I know how to get separation and I have dependable hands.”
When Gallon is asked about the issues with his height he kindly brushes them off as he doesn’t worry about the things he can’t control.
“For me it’s just about putting in the hard work,” Gallon said. “I know if I continue to work hard my time will come. At Michigan I knew my time was going to come whether it was in that bowl game or not. I was working hard and my teammates and coaches saw that.”
Gallon received his degree in general studies and says now he can focus on the next part of his life, one that will hopefully include more football.
“I want to play in the NFL and make my name in the NFL,” Gallon added. “After football I want to work with kids and do anything I can to support kids.”
Corey Long is a freelance writer based in St. Petersburg.