The sweat pooled under Reggie Gallaspy on the finished concrete floor in the lobby of the Close-King Indoor Practice Facility.
It looked like the N.C. State senior had run through a carwash on Monday morning. The evidence of Gallaspy’s hard work was literally on the floor in a puddle at his feet.
As the only running back on the Wolfpack roster with college experience, there is much work to be done this season for Gallaspy. Gone are Nyheim Hines and Jaylen Samuels, so is the comfort for Gallaspy in knowing he can just be a “change of pace.”
“It’s different this year than it has been,” Gallaspy said Monday.
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It is, and while still early in camp and weeks before the first game, it’s also all positive for Gallaspy. He is embracing his role as the primary running back. Hines (1,112 rushing yards in 2017) and Matt Dayes (1,166 rushing yards in 2016) excelled in the same role in coordinator’s Eli Drinkwitz’s offense.
That’s the progression N.C. State coach Dave Doeren is hoping Gallaspy can make as a senior. Gallaspy ran for 505 yards, second-most on the team, with seven touchdowns last season.
This is the best Gallaspy has been mentally and physically, Doeren said.
“I just think he’s in a good place,” Doeren said.
Gallaspy, a power runner at 5-11 and 235 pounds, has been slowed by injuries and fitness problems throughout his first three college seasons.
The added responsibility of fatherhood, (his daughter Aliah was born in Sept. 2015, the first month of his sophomore season), Gallaspy admits added a degree of difficulty to his time management.
“It took me a while to try to handle things,” Gallaspy said.
Gallaspy said his daughter is a “blessing” and he believes she has helped his game.
“It changed me as a man, it changed me as a player,” Gallaspy said.
“It gave me more drive than I had before. Any time I feel like, I can’t go no more, I get a flash of her in my mind and I pick it up.”
A balky left knee kept Gallaspy from really hitting full stride last season. The emergence of Hines and Samuels relegated him to spot duty. In a reserve role, he didn’t have more than 13 carries in a game but was effective in short-yardage situations. He was also the best pass protector of the position group, a trait greatly appreciated by quarterback Ryan Finley.
“For Ryan, it’s like having another starting offensive lineman back there,” Doeren said. “(Finley) trusts him so much.”
N.C. State needs Gallaspy to do more this season. He can’t just pick up a stray short-yardage touchdown or be good in pass protection. He has to be able to carry the load as the primary runner.
His best game was his last game. He crashed through Arizona State’s defense in the second half of the Sun Bowl for 70 yards. He had a pair of touchdown runs, including a bruising 23-yard burst, in N.C. State’s 52-31 win.
That’s the version of Gallaspy N.C. State needs this season with Hines and Samuels (404 yards, 12 touchdowns) off to the NFL.
It should help that Gallaspy is healthy for the first time since his sophomore season. He was hobbled by a foot injury his freshman season and was slowed by a knee injury last year.
He missed the spring game in April while trying to get his left knee closer to 100 percent. The time off helped lead to a breakthrough.
“After the spring game, I did everything I could,” Gallaspy said. “I stayed in training room, kept my head down and (kept) grinding.”
Gallaspy is motivated to match the standard set by Dayes and Hines. He’s also aware of the lack of experience behind him on the depth chart.
“We’re used to a room with a lot of older guys,” Gallaspy said. “Now there’s only two seniors.”
Brady Bodine, a former walk-on who is one of the team’s standouts on special teams, is the only other senior. Redshirt freshman Nakia Robinson, freshman Ricky Person and freshman Trent Pennix are expected to back up Gallaspy this season.
This wasn’t quite how Doeren lined up the depth chart when Gallaspy, Hines and Johnny Frasier — all four-star recruits from the state — signed in 2015.
Frasier took a medical hardship with a shoulder injury before the 2017 season and left the program. Hines left after his standout junior season (and was a fourth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts).
Then after spring practice, redshirt freshman Erin Collins left the program. Now Doeren has Gallaspy and bunch of pups.
“It’s not where you would want it to be there are some holes there,” Doeren said of the depth chart at running back. “At the same time, we all know there are freshmen and redshirt freshmen in college football who make a great name for themselves when they get an opportunity. They just need time.”
Gallaspy is ready for his time. He looks like a senior ready for his last chance. He has adopted the nickname of retired NFL great Jerome Bettis, a famous power back.
“Reggie is ‘The Bus’ and I’m going to be the passenger,” Robinson said.
The whole offense will be if Gallaspy’s sweat pays off.