Laurel Highlands’ Rodney Gallagher commits to play football at West Virginia


Wednesday, May 25, 2022 | 3:13 PM

Keeping his family close was important to Rodney Gallagher, so he did what countless other Western Pennsylvania football recruits have done and committed to his hometown team.

But for him, a junior at Laurel Highlands in Fayette County, that’s not Pitt or Penn State.

That’s West Virginia.

Gallagher, the state’s top-ranked football recruit in the 2023 class, committed Wednesday to the Mountaineers, ending a recruiting process that lasted almost three years and first started with him receiving basketball offers.

Now ranked as a four-star football recruit by Rivals, Gallagher said he’d narrowed his options to West Virginia, Penn State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. He earlier included Pitt, Oklahoma State, Oregon and Texas among his top eight schools but decided in the past two weeks that his future was in the Mountain State.

“It is 20 minutes down the road,” Gallagher said. “Wherever I decided to go, I wanted to be closer to my family. I think my family can take me a long way. They’ve already done so much for me. I just want to continue to do a lot of things for them.”

Gallagher made his announcement at an assembly in the school’s gymnasium with his sisters and father among those sitting beside him. On the table was a picture of his late mother, Crystal, who died in 2011.

“Family means everything,” said his father, also named Rodney. “I lost my wife, and he lost his mom and the bond became even stronger. So for him to go to West Virginia and us being right down the road, that means a lot.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound junior will play wide receiver for West Virginia. Gallagher said he told Mountaineers coach Neal Brown he was committing there shortly before making his afternoon announcement.

“Slot receiver is where they want me to play,” he said. “I feel like I can be really special in that position when I get the ball in my hands in space.”

Gallagher had more than two dozen FBS offers, but his recruiting journey started in summer 2019 with Division I basketball offers. West Virginia was among the schools recruiting Gallagher in both sports, but he previously decided to narrow his college focus to football and said again Wednesday he won’t play basketball at WVU.

But he won’t enroll early, meaning he’ll have one more high school basketball season. Laurel Highlands won the WPIAL title this past winter, the team’s second in three years.

“(West Virginia coaches) want me to play my basketball season here, and I want to play it,” he said. “Get another championship and try to be even more legendary here in this community.”

Gallagher played quarterback and defensive back for the school’s football team last fall. He topped 1,000 yards both passing and rushing in the regular season and led the Mustangs to their first playoff win in team history.

He passed for 1,365 yards and 12 touchdowns, rushed for 1,130 yards and scored 20 times.

Gallagher is active on social media and has shown interest in pursuing financial opportunities through Name, Image and Likeness deals, but he said that didn’t influence his college choice.

“This is really a football fit for me,” Gallagher said. “Hopefully that comes along the way, but I’m not worried about that right now.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Tags: Laurel Highlands

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Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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