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Clemson RB Wayne Gallman brushes off concussion talk, ready to play FSU

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North Carolina State's Dravious Wright tackles Clemson running back Wayne Gallman when the teams played Oct. 15 at Memorial Stadium. 

CLEMSON — Junior running back Wayne Gallman is on track to suit up Saturday when No. 3 Clemson plays at No. 12 Florida State, though there is some ambiguity to how Gallman views his head injury.

Gallman, the team’s leading tailback who set the school single-season rushing record in 2015, is listed on Clemson’s injury report as “probable” after going through concussion protocol last week stemming from a knockout hit Oct. 15 vs. N.C. State. Gallman was out the remainder of the Tigers’ 24-17 overtime victory, after sustaining a brutal hit from Wolfpack nickelback Dravious Wright.

“I just remember catching the ball, making a move, going north and after that I don’t remember anything at all until I got back to the training room,” Gallman said Monday. “It was like I went to sleep and I woke up in the training room. I saw a video of myself walking off; I don’t even remember that.”

Gallman added he did remember returning to the field in street clothes for the second half, and accompanying the captains to midfield for the overtime coin flip.

However, Gallman refused to acknowledge he physically sustained a concussion. Asked whether this was his first career concussion, Gallman answered, “I wouldn’t even call it a concussion. For me, personally I wouldn’t. Everybody else is, I guess.” Asked a minute later to clarify, he said, “Of course, I don’t think I have one, because I’m ready to play. I’m not going to tell y’all I got a concussion. They said I had one, so I had to go through concussion protocol.”

Gallman did not practice during Clemson’s bye week, and said he is expected to be part of team practice in jerseys and shorts Monday. He said he hopes to be back in full pads Thursday, Clemson’s final practice before Saturday’s game.

“I’m fine. I’m ready to play. I’m playing Florida State,” Gallman insisted.

After watching the replay of Wright’s hit, which caused a fumble, Gallman said: “He didn’t lead with his hands, he just came with his head ... I wanted somebody to hurt him that was in the game if they could. But I wasn’t able to be in the game.”

The hit was not ruled targeting on the field, and the ACC office supported the no-call upon further review last week.

Gallman has 489 rushing yards on 90 carries (5.4 per rush) and five touchdowns, plus eight catches for 73 yards, this season.

“He’s a tough competitor. We basically had to take the helmet from him in that game vs. N.C. State,” co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott said. “He knows no fear. That’s what makes him a special player. He’s not afraid of contact. He wants to be out there with his guys. He believes in his ability to help this football team, and he just loves to play.”

Elliott indicated “I don’t live in that world medically” in terms of assessing when Gallman might return fully to practice or his chances of playing against the Seminoles. Head coach Dabo Swinney next meets with reporters at his Tuesday press conference.

“There’s a heightened sense and heightened alarm about the concussions. Obviously you have more data over the years to see the potential long-term effects of guys who have suffered several concussions,” Elliott said. “I let Coach Swinney and (team trainer) Danny Poole determine the actual protocol. You want to err on the side of being cautious. But they’ve got their computer systems and their analysis they use to make sure a young man is fit to come back in and compete.”

Elliott was asked if players will intentionally hide concussion-like symptoms to shield themselves from concussion protocol – which is left up to schools individually, not mandated by the ACC or NCAA – or the prospect of missing playing time.

“I would imagine there’s some of that,” Elliott said, “but I think in Wayne’s situation, it was more, he was knocked unconscious immediately when he was hit, and came back to, and didn’t feel any symptoms of his head or his brain being injured. It was more how he was feeling as opposed to not wanting to call it a concussion. Obviously Danny and those guys, they X-rayed and evaluated him, they found out there was something that wasn’t right, so they kept him out of the game.”

Redshirt sophomore C.J. Fuller led the Tigers with 56 yards on 16 carries against the Wolfpack, and took first-team practice snaps last week with Gallman sidelined.

“I think coming out of that game, right now if the situation was Wayne wasn’t available, C.J. would be the guy, as long as he goes out and has a great week of practice,” Elliott said. “He had a good off week, and you saw a different pep in his step, understanding what the responsibility of being that No. 1 guy is.”

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