Dec. 13, 2013
By Daniel Forstot, MGoBlue.com
For fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, academics have always come first. He chose to come to Michigan from his home in Apopka, Fla., because of the emphasis the staff placed on the education he would receive at U-M. He has always known that being a student comes before being an athlete.
"When I came here to visit, the first thing they did was show me the Academic Center and then the football facilities," Gallon said. "Every other school that came to visit me just talked about football and what I could do for their team. Michigan came and talked about academics, and I thought that was something special."
Gallon's degree -- one he will receive at U-M's December graduation -- is special for many reasons but especially because he will be the first member of his family to graduate from college.
"Getting my diploma means a lot to me and my family but for my family especially. I'm setting a new standard. I'm doing something that my younger siblings, my nieces and my nephew can look up to. I'm showing everyone in my neighborhood that things aren't always negative," Gallon stated. "You can come from a negative situation and turn it into a positive one. It's great for me to be able to say, 'I made it, and so can you.'"
Needless to say, however, Gallon's hard work has not been limited to the classroom.
After leading Michigan in receiving during his junior campaign, Gallon was awarded Desmond Howard's Michigan Football Legend jersey. He has worn the No. 21 during his final season in honor of the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner.
During camp this past August, Gallon had the opportunity to speak with Howard himself after a team dinner as the two got to know each other. The following day, he found out about his new number from head coach Brady Hoke.
"Coach Hoke called me into his office and said, 'Desmond Howard wants you to honor him by wearing his jersey.' My eyes got big and my jaw dropped to the ground. I was shocked. He could've picked anybody, but he picked me. It was a blessing. I was extremely honored to wear his number and to honor him with this badge on my jersey."
In response to the added pressure, Gallon raised his game to a new level this season. He finished the regular season ranked second in the Big Ten in receptions (80) and receiving yards (1,284), and he needs just 47 more yards to surpass Braylon Edwards' single-season program record. He attributes much of his success to his teammates and coaches, and in particular, his quarterback and best friend, Devin Gardner.
Gallon's finest outing came on Oct. 19, at home against Indiana. The fifth-year senior caught 14 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns. His 369 receiving yards stand as the best single-game total in conference history and rank second all-time in the FBS.
Standing at just 5-foot-8, Gallon says despite what everyone thinks, his height actually offers him an advantage over his opponents.
"I know that everyone has always underestimated me because of my size," says the 184-pound wideout. "It gives me an advantage because they don't put in their all when they're defending me, and I'm giving 120 percent every time. It's a matter of me outworking my opponent and doing more than they are willing to do."
To top off a career year, Gallon was voted by his teammates as the Bo Schembechler Team MVP, an award he was presented at U-M's annual football team banquet on Dec. 9. He became the first wide receiver to garner the award since 2005.
If he manages 43 more yards in Michigan's bowl game later this month, he will move into third place on the program's all-time receiving list. For Gallon, however, records are not something he pays attention to. What has always been most important to him is that his team comes out on top.
Despite the various records Gallon has broken, his career as a Wolverine has meant so much more to him than the accolades and numbers. He will leave Ann Arbor with many gaudy statistics, but more importantly, he hopes to serve as a role model as he leaves with countless friends, memories and a degree from one of the top universities in the world.
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