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Every year it seems like one or two incoming freshman catch the attention of the coaches and players with their early dedication. Last year high school All-Americans Ernie Sims and Antonio Cromartie wowed everyone by not only showing up for summer workouts on day one, but by doing so in tremendous shape. This year the rookie turning heads with his early commitment is Rodney Gallon.
Just days after graduating from Lincoln High School, the all-state linebacker was at Florida State getting his physical examination so he wouldn't miss a day of the voluntary summer workouts. But even before then, he began preparing for his career as a Seminole.
"I'll tell you what, not only today, but since his letter of intent was signed he has been on the spot with everything," Strength and Conditioning Coach Jon Jost said. "He stops by to see us probably once a week. He brings in his workout in and asks questions. He is fired up and ready to go. It's exciting because it's great to work with guys like that."
On Monday the former Lincoln standout was giddy being able to participate in drills as an official Seminole. His excitement was apparent not only from his effort, but from his smile after the completion of the workout.
"It feels real good," said Gallon, who will begin his FSU career at weak-side (Will) linebacker. "I'm eager to come out here and do what I have to do. I'm out here working hard."
Unlike most incoming freshman, who usually have fend for themselves, Gallon should see plenty of familiar faces on the team. Three former Trojans are currently on the Seminole roster - Craphonso Thorpe, Pat Watkins and Antonio Cromartie - and they weren't the least bit surprised to see Gallon by their side on Monday.
"That's how they raise us coming from Lincoln," Thorpe said. "We believe in dedication and putting 100 percent in everything we do. It's not a surprise seeing him out here already."
Even before Monday, Gallon has been a fixture on the practice fields. Before he signed with Florida State in February, he was a regular at fall practices. He also spent a lot of time on the sidelines during spring practice studying the linebackers and the Seminole defense.
"I have seen Rodney out here three or four times," center David Castillo said. "He came a lot during spring to learn as much as he could and that is why he is here. He is a great athlete and he has the heart and determination to be out here."
When Gallon isn't working on improving his football skills, he is busy working at a Tallahassee restaurant. His summer job is not only helping him raise a little cash, it also is helping raise his weight, which is one of his goals. The Rivals.com No. 9 rated linebacker reports that he is now up to 210 pounds, and hopes to be around 215 to 220 by the start of the season.
Anybody that saw Gallon destroy running backs on a regular basis during his high school career is familiar with his speed and hitting ability. Even though he racked up over 130 tackles last season and earned first team all-state honors for 4A, he has had to endure criticism that he is too light to play linebacker in college. Instead seeing that as a negative, those doubts have served as his motivation.
"My goal right now is to prove everybody wrong," Gallon said. "Everybody is doubting me right now but I'm going to be out here and work hard."
Gallon finished his senior season by recording 135 tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks. He finished is prep career playing the Cali-Florida Bowl where he tallied eight total tackles.
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