Vol. LXII, No. 35
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
RUSH HOUR: Princeton University defensive lineman Pat Gallagher puts the rush on Lehigh quarterback Sedale Threatt in action last fall. Gallagher, a former star at the Hun School, started preseason camp this week with the Tigers as he prepares for his final college campaign.
The Princeton University football team got its 2007 season underway with a kickoff return by Pete Ploszek.
Ploszeks 25-yard gallop will go down as a minor footnote in a 31-20 loss to Lehigh which started Princeton on the road to a disappointing 4-6 season.
Yet for Tiger defensive lineman Pat Gallagher, that play marked a moment hell never forget.
It was the first college action for the former Hun School star after riding the bench for the first two years of his Princeton career.
It was good; I enjoyed it, recalled Gallagher. I felt butterflies but I had been prepping for that a long time.
The 60, 255-pound Gallagher went on to emerge as a key reserve for the Tigers, accumulating 13 tackles in seeing action mainly in goal-line and run situations.
This week, Gallagher will look to build on last years progress as he starts training camp for his final campaign with the Tigers.
Im very excited; I feel confident that I have put myself in the best position to do well, said Gallagher. Im confident in my teammates; there is a high level of trust.
Gallagher believes his play last season helped him earn the trust of his teammates.
I started to get into a rhythm, said Gallagher. I had a good game against Harvard. I started getting in more and more on run plays.
A major highlight for Gallagher came when he recovered a fumble in Princetons game against Hampton.
I got a good push on the center and caused a bad exchange on the snap, said Gallagher, who had three tackles for a loss in 2007.
I saw the ball there and I just dropped on it. I had no return yardage but had good ball security.
In Princetons spring practices, Gallagher focused on improving his pass rushing. I had a really good spring game, asserted Gallagher. I had two sacks; I would have had a third if [Pete] Buchignani hadnt run past me.
Gallagher has worked hard this summer to ensure that he has a really good senior season.
I go in at 6:20 or so in the morning to lift weights; I spend about two hours in the weight room, said Gallagher.
We get together in the afternoons; we do 7 on 7 technique. We are running the stadium stairs a lot more right now. Im weighing 255 but feeling a lot faster.
In Gallaghers view, the team has been collectively picking up the pace in its offseason workouts.
I feel the guys getting stronger; people are setting personal records in the weight room, said Gallagher. We are hitting our stride right now. I feel the team gelling right now.
As a senior, Gallagher feels a special sense of urgency coming into the 2008 preseason camp.
Its the last lap around the track, said Gallagher. As [senior defensive lineman] Matt Koch says, you only play college football for four years, you have to make the most of it.
After experiencing a 9-1 season and an Ivy League title in 2006, Gallagher and his classmates are determined to help Princeton get back to the top of the league heap.
Its such a good group of guys, said Gallagher, whose classmates Koch, receiver Adam Berry, and quarterback Brian Anderson are serving as tri-captains this fall.
Its not a loud class but the expectation is that each of us will work our butt off. We dont want to let each other down, you dont want to let your friends down. Its been fun seeing the guys stepping into leadership roles. It just doesnt come from the captains; it comes from the whole class.
Gallagher is confident that he and his classmates can end their careers on a high note.
We have put in too much work, we can create our own breaks, maintained Gallagher.
The hardest part is the conditioning mentally and physically. It has the most utility, even if you are not faster than the guy you are facing, you can beat him when it counts if you are better shape.
In the wake of his progress last season, Gallagher should beat plenty of the guys he faces this fall.
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