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The New Mountaineer Magician: Rodney Gallagher

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How 2-Sport Ace Rodney Gallagher will impact WVU

On a cold Friday evening back in March, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) Class 5A Championship basketball game took place at the Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, PA featuring a battle of the two top teams in their classification: No. 1 ranked Laurel Highlands led by West Virginia commit Rodney Gallagher versus No. 2 New Castle. 

Both programs were owners of the previous 2 WPIAL Championships. The pre-game rankings lived up to the heavyweight billing as New Castle and Laurel Highlands exchanged the lead dozens of times throughout both halves and couldn't settle it in regulation. The see-saw battle wasn't settled in the first overtime, but fate once again was called upon Laurel Highlands sensation Rodney Gallagher in the second overtime. 

With the game tied at 58, Gallagher hit the lane and attacked the rim. He tossed a running shot up to the basket drawing contact with the New Castle defender and with 3 tenths of a second left, the officials called a defensive foul on New Castle to send Gallagher to the free-throw line. 

For most athletes, the pressure of a championship moment can get the most of them. For Rodney Gallagher, it was déjà vu all over again. In his freshman season for Laurel Highlands, Gallagher was in a similar situation against Mars in 2020. Back then, it was 4.8 seconds remaining, this time, it was less time, but it didn't phase Gallagher. 

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"I'll tell you this, I definitely wasn't as nervous as I was my freshman year," Rodney Gallagher told Chris Harlan of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "I actually felt comfortable." 

That comfort and confidence, and championship awareness filled Rodney Gallagher. Allowing him to sink the game-winning free throws for Laurel Highlands. Shots that would secure their second championship in three seasons. Furthermore, it made him a two-sport ace or the 2023 Recruiting Cycle that the country was coveting. 

Gallagher on the Gridiron

Gallagher is the heart and soul of the Laurel Highlands football program. He finished his junior season with 1,365 passing yards, 1,130 rushing yards, and 31 total touchdowns.

He projects to be on the gridiron a slot receiver. 

A ceiling I see when watching him is former Penn State and currently Washington Commanders 1st Round pick Jahan Dotson. 

Gallagher has a sleek 5-foot, 10-inch frame at 160 lbs. A year in a strength and conditioning program should see him get that 10-15 pounds of muscle. Which would be much needed to be in the slot at the Power 5 level.

When I watch highlights of Gallagher, he possesses excellent vision of the field when he has the ball. He also has dynamic speed, and great acceleration, with explosiveness to run away from defenders. His ability to cut, his stop-start ability, and excellent footwork make him a desirable playmaker; everyone in the country was seeking his talents. 

His primitive route running abilities this is what is keeping Gallagher from being rated a 5-star athlete. This will be a project for WVU WR coach Tony Washington when Gallagher arrives on campus next year.

Gallagher Recruitment and Future

Gallagher moved up his commitment date from July 4 because he felt at home. 

"They've been showing love since my freshman year," Gallagher told Mountaineers Now. "I have a great relationship with the whole staff, especially coach [Dontae] Wright - he's a good dude. It just felt like the best fit for me."

Gallagher's top 8 consisted of Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Texas, Virginia Tech, and WVU. 

Could we see Rodney Gallagher on the basketball court at The Coliseum for the Mountaineers? 

Mountaineers basketball coach Bob Huggins extended an offer to Gallagher during his sophomore season in high school.

Gallagher was on Pittsburgh's 93.7 The Fan with Adam Crawley, "Neal Brown was all for it, and Coach Huggins was all for it. And they still are if I ever want to do that again."

Gallagher was offered in basketball by Florida, George Mason, Hampton, Illinois, Penn State, Pitt, Rhode Island, Wake Forest, and WVU. 

In George Michalowski's article in Pittsburgh Sports Now about making his concentration football, Gallagher said, "It was a lot," Gallagher told PSN about the decision. "It was one of the hardest decisions that I have made in my life. I have really been thinking about what I really want to do for some time now, but I finally did have to pick football."

"My basketball stuff got really quiet, and part of it was because they really didn't think I was going to be focusing on basketball anymore with the two-sport situation," he continued. "They know football takes up so much, lifting wise and all the stuff off the field, and even when we are on the field in the facilities too. For basketball, I haven't heard from a new coach, other than West Virginia, Penn State, and Pitt, those are probably the only schools I heard from since last summer. So really just came down to that, and then obviously, you know how hard it is to play two sports in college. So, it was really hard for me because obviously, I wanted to try something, but everything happens for a reason. I am very excited I did pick what I am picking."