Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

MOUNT ULLA — Jack Gallagher sliced off a piece of celebration cake that was nearly as big as a defensive back and wolfed it down, but no one minded that Gallagher was taking an hour or so off from training on Wednesday.
West Rowan’s tight end had a reason to chow down. He didn’t get much attention this season, with the Falcons sticking mostly to the ground, but he’ll continue his football career in college at Division III Methodist in Fayetteville.
“Coach (Scott) Young is the one really responsible for that,” Gallagher said. “He did pretty much everything. He got everything set up. Then when I went down there to visit the school, I really liked it.”
For Young, National Signing Day is Christmas, Halloween, Labor Day and the Fourth of July rolled into one.
It’s not like the Falcons had guys signing with Virginia and Arkansas this time, but Young was thrilled for Gallagher and for Tyler Stamp, who signed with Division II Wingate.
“Other than a state championship game, signing day is the second most special day of the year,” Young proclaimed. “This is an annual tradition here, and while we’re a litle bit lighter than usual, we’ve still got two making their commitments today— and we’ll have a lot more later on.”
The list of later-ons figures to include linebackers Logan Stoodley and Bubba McLaughlin, defensive lineman Kiero Cuthbertson, and several more.
When Gallagher arrived at West he wasn’t a can’t-miss college prospect.
He paid dues for two seasons on the jayvees and was the backup tight end to Louis Kraft as a junior. He became the starting tight end as a senior.
His body slowly, but steadily transformed during high school. He came to West at 180, but he’s now a sturdy 6-foot-1, 226 pounds.
“If you do what the coaches tell you and go hard in the weight room, even in the summer time, you can get pretty big,” Gallagher said. “Even if you put in just a small amount of work, you can get pretty big.”
Young says Gallagher has put in a lot more time than a small amount.
“He’s paid the price for four years,” Young said. “He’s worked and worked in the weight room, and the improvement in his body has been tremendous. He’s redistributed his weight into good areas and he has developed himself into a college player. He’s a success story.”
Gallagher has been a sixth offensive linemen during his career at West, as the Falcons have pounded away out of the I-formation with Dinkin Miller, Daisean Reddick and Desmond Jackson.
He was coached by Joe Nixon, now North Rowan’s head coach, for three seasons. Patrick Hampton and Kraft, West’s two previous tight ends, worked with Gallagher in 2012.
“I guess I’ve mostly been kind of a tackle/fullback,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher joked in an interview as a junior that he was the “ninth option” in West’s passing game, but he can catch the ball. West went into the 2012 contest with South Rowan with passes to the tight end as a key part of the gameplan, and Gallagher produced three receptions for 40 yards.
“He doesn’t have great speed, but he does have great hands,” Young said.
Gallagher is looking forward to catching some balls for the Monarchs as a combination tight end/fullback and might study journalism. His father, Ronnie, is a reasonably famous sports writer, while his mother, Joan, starred in field hockey at Catawba. where she still holds a record or two.
At Wednesday’s signing, Jack sported a vest that was the bright green color favored by the Methodist Monarchs.
“Just 13 dollars at Kohl’s,” Gallagher reported cheerfully.
Thirteen bucks is 13 bucks, but the chance to continue his education by playing football?
That’s priceless.