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Experiences

Former FSU Linebacker Talks Football, College Advice, and More

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

After graduating from Tallahassee’s Lincoln High School in 2004, Rodney Gallon signed to play football for his dream school, Florida State University. Now an alum to the university and to the sport, Gallon coaches at KAOS to help inspire and train the next generations of athletes to improve their agility, strength and confidence. I had the chance to sit down with the former FSU linebacker and learn about his thoughts on all things college football – his experience, his take on the current 2022 season, his advice for current FSU athletes and what he learned the most about being a college athlete at Florida State.

Her Campus (HC): What was it like to be a part of the Florida State University football team? And what position did you play? 

Rodney Gallon (RG): Earning an opportunity to join a historical winning program under the leadership of Bobby Bowden was fast but tremendous! I’m a Tallahassee native, state champion and was ranked the No. 9 outside linebacker in the country from Lincoln High School. At that time, I already had five other teammates from high school and four other players from the Big Bend area at FSU. It was tough but truly a learning experience that changed my life. I really wanted to win a national championship with the people that I love! 

HC: What was your favorite game that you remember and why?

RG: It was a cold, windy night in Maryland. That was my first start. I was going through a lot at the time. My firstborn was on the way, a lot of my peers doubted me, and I wasn’t having fun anymore. But that night I balled out! I earned my respect, and my city was back on ESPN!

HC: What changes do you see with the team’s play in 2022 and even within the program since you were on the team? 

RG: In the past 7 years, I have seen a lack of leadership, lack of willpower, poor recruiting, poor investments and disloyal fans. The 2022 season so far has shown me so much improvement and confidence. Especially with the college football culture changing due to the transfer portal. That helped the recruiting and the lack of competitiveness in certain positions for us. Coaching is a work in progress because our current head coach is still adapting to the Atlantic Coast Conference. But the spirit of the fight is highlighted! I see more promise than ever before.  

HC: What has been your opinion on the recent games?

RG: Our close-call game against Louisville caused FSU to be exposed in a lot of areas. Injuries don’t help either, but we find a way to win – which is a great sign for the future!

We have to be more physical from start to finish, we have to defend mobile quarterbacks better, stop the run game and we still need to improve our offensive line. We are not mean enough up front. No pride in protecting the leader of the team. But a win is a win. We are more explosive and vocal. I see communication, some leadership and the love of Seminole Football are starting to mean something to the players. Florida State is still a pipeline to the NFL.

HC: Who do you think is playing really well this season? And who do you think is playing really well this season that maybe no one talks about?

RG: Before Jordan Travis got hurt, he impressed me the most! He finally looks comfortable and understands the system effectively. Constant coaching really helped his game. The system fits his game extremely well. Our tight-end Camren McDonald is a dog! He never gets talked about. Believe it or not, he is an “Automatic First Down” every time Jordan Travis throws him the football.

HC: Outside of football, what did you most enjoy about your time as a student at Florida State?

RG: The people! I’m a social butterfly by heart. I met thousands of people that changed my life! Molded me, enlightened me, directed me, loved me and experienced me! Using my stardom and personality to befriend great people and learn valuable lessons. Good or bad.

HC: What would you tell new students to do or see at the school or in the Tallahassee area? Any specific places or things to do? 

RG: I would tell new students to learn the history of Tallahassee; art museums, clubs, all festivals and football games of course. This place is full of talent in all parts of life. Tallahassee is boring at times, but it’s a place of rich tradition and spirituality. It’s one of the most active networking areas in the country.

HC: What advice would you give to current FSU football players? And what advice would you give prospective football players who want to play at FSU? 

RG: Take pride in what you are doing. College football might be the highest football that you ever play. It’s the best experience in your life if you put in the work. Or it will be a long, dragging, depressing, lonely, embarrassing, eye-opening experience. In essence, you might find that you aren’t good or didn’t work hard enough. Play for your teammate like a brother, play for the name that is on the back of your jersey (because I learned, that the number never changes but the name does). Play for the High Supreme God that gave you a talent and, therefore, puts you in His light to shine for the world. This is a business, so look at the depth chart, know your position coach, graduation rate and coaching resume. Education is everywhere. Find the best fit for your style of football, or you will not play.

When asked what he learned about himself, Gallon gave insight into both the pros and cons he discovered while juggling being a student-athlete at FSU. Procrastination, becoming distracted in college nightlife and personal family problems were all cons during his college time. The positives he learned included that his parents were right about most things in life and there was great value in academic competition, as well the importance of organization. Gallon included how maintaining quality nutrition and sleep as a student-athlete, utilizing resources and building high-end ties (especially NFL), were all key factors in being a successful student-athlete.

At the end of the interview, I had the chance to ask Gallon if he had any further commentary on the legacy that Florida State football has managed to produce for itself through the years of ups and downs and perseverance, as well as any final commentary on his experience. “This is a major chapter in my life that truly is unexplainable in 10 questions. Because every time I say Bobby Bowden’s name, I’m protected and forever feeding my family. Due to our hard work for that man and for that university, he made us champions on and off the field. It was the best experience ever!” Gallon said.

Here’s to Gallon and the many other Florida State University Alums!

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Saige Kemeny is a Junior English major and Psych minor at Florida State University. She loves writing, music, and matcha lattes :-))
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