By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine/TV
There’s a strong tradition of playing quarterback for one of the biggest and most successful football programs in north Louisiana every year – C.E. Byrd High School.
Some of the Yellow Jackets’ previous QBs own legend status – such as the late David Woodley, an LSU and Miami Dolphins star; Arnaz Battle was a stud at Notre Dame and reached the NFL, and others going much farther back in one of the most tradition-rich programs in Louisiana. Last year’s starter, Lake Lambert, did a great job as a four-year guy playing in a state championship game and making game-breaking plays for Byrd.
Stepping in for Lambert at starting QB is J.D. Gallman, who is not the size of the players mentioned above (just 5-10, 160), but he is cut from the same cloth in talent, leadership. He is a really good athlete who played mostly receiver until now.
I think J.D. has a chance to become a WR/slot in college if someone will give him a chance to play that poiotion. He has really good feet and hands, and knows the game. It’s a skill set that can make him factor at a FCS or Division II or III program. I have seen many 5-10, 160 pound players go on to become great slot WRs, beginning as walk-ons and growing into leaders of college programs. Wes Welker comes to mind at Texas Tech, where he became a All American with a long NFL career. Shreveport’s Trent Taylor came out of Evangel Christian at 5-8, 165, had a great career at Louisiana Tech and is in the NFL with Cincinnati.
I asked Gallman how he thought playing WR has helped him with playing QB now.
“This comes down to taking care of blocks, speed of the game, and the atmosphere,” he said. “It really helps me for this year because I know what it takes and I know how blocks will be made for the creases and alleys to run in.”
J.D. grew up with the eyes of Texas on him.
“I grew up liking Texas because of my dad. My middle name, Young, is because of Vince Young, the national champion QB for the Longhorns,” he said. “I also grew up liking Oregon because they have always just had a spark and I love their uniforms. I also like to watch Clemson because they have a great program and I love the way coach Dabo Sweeney coaches and pushes his players.”
Part of being recruited is traveling the summer camp circuit and Gallman has done it.
“I’ve been to a number of camps. Harding University was probably one of the best ever. At Stephen F. Austin, I loved my time there and it was full of competition. My time at ULM was cut short due to weather, but we got some good work in. Louisiana Tech’s camp was a lot competing and having fun within the Ark-La-Tex. The coaches there are legit. At Centenary, I thought the college was extraordinary. They have great coaches and will push you 110 percent. I will be going back to Arkansas Monticello soon; I think it’s an amazing place.”
Byrd offensive coordinator Wade Leone, a former Northwestern State Demon, is sold on his QB.
“J.D. Gallman is the IT of Byrd HS this year. He has backed up one of the most successful QBs in Byrd’s storied history. He has watched three years of our offense against the best in the state. He’s a phenomenal leader of this team and school.
“Some words that pop out are love, caring, teacher, coach, teammate, son, friend, I think a college like Northwestern needs a J.D. Gallman. He’s a person NSU needs in the locker room,” said Leone.
Gallman values his coaches.
“Our head coach, Stacy Ballew, is a great man. He definitely pushes us to be the best we can be. He always tells us to be better today than we were yesterday and that has made a impact on me. He always makes sure we are OK and supplies us with the best equipment, even a protein shake vending machine.
“My QB coach, Wade Leone, I can’t tell you how much he has impacted my life. He is one of the hardest-nosed coaches I’ve ever encountered,” said Gallman. “I will always remember everything he’s taught me because not only does it translate to football, but life. One of his favorite sayings is ‘it all relates.’
“He has taught me how to never get complacent. I will always remember the talks in his class. One day he made us write paragraphs about why we do what we do every day and what is the purpose. But when he told me why he does what he does I wanted to cry. It hit me so hard and had such an impact on me.”
Tidbits about J.D. Gallman:
He loves to hunt and fish, and loves the gym.
“I am on the Byrd fishing team. This past year we won anglers of the year, with one first place and three seconds, and we finished fourth overall in the state tournament,” he said.
With a very impressive 4.6 GPA, Gallman has his eyes on a career, and a specific college major.
“I want to major in kinesiology or exercise and sports medicine. I plan on becoming either a human anatomy teacher and a football coach, or an athletic trainer for a football team and also coach, if possible.”
Byrd has plenty of in-city rivals, and Gallman has his favorite across the Red River.
“I enjoy playing Parkway because on my dad’s side of our family, three uncles plus my dad graduated from there, and some of their kids have, too. On my mom’s side, two uncles and one aunt went there.”
His father played nose guard at Parkway. His mother was a hurdler at Bellevue West High in Omaha, Nebraska.
Lee Brecheen has operated Louisiana Football Magazine for over 30 years and is one of the state’s foremost experts on high school football and especially recruiting. Based in Baton Rouge, Lee travels statewide to watch practices and games and has broken down film and tape since the late 1980s. He has converted the printed product to an online website (Lafootballmagazine.com) that will preview every high school and college football program in the state before kickoff this fall. Lee also hosts a football-centric TV show on YouTube, The Sports Scouting Report, on weekdays.
Contact Lee at email@example.com