Like father, like son: Gallon II finds his football home in Manhattan

Willie the Wildcat at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 14, 2017. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Eric Gallon II has heard many stories about his dad’s college days when his father was a running back for Kansas State in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Gallon II has even seen highlights of his dad starting the same year at Kansas State that head coach Bill Snyder did. Gallon II knew his father helped the Wildcats to 17 wins in three seasons after only winning one total game in their first season.

But now it’s the redshirt junior Gallon II’s turn to play for the Wildcats under the same head coach his father played for almost 20 years ago.

“This team treats me as my own person,” Gallon II said. “They have expectations for me, and they don’t put my father in that way, so I think that’s good that they don’t do that to me.”

In the 1991-92 season, Gallon led the team with 1,807 rushing yards, as well as 12 touchdowns on the year.

Gallon II, however, is a linebacker who transferred from the University of Virginia, where he had two tackles on the season last year.

“Spring is all about competition, so we’ve been going at it hard and can’t wait to go head to head,” Gallon II said. “I think I just need to continue to be in the system and just keep getting better, even as a person.”

Gallon II said he realizes that he needs to get better every day, on and off the field.

“In the classroom, on the field and personally I’m just trying to get better,” Gallon II said. “Give great effort in everything that I do is something I strive for.”

Gallon II said there is no clear-cut, stand-out linebacker, but that everyone is fighting for a spot.

“Everyone brings something different at this position, which is because we are all competing at the highest level, and that is what you want,” Gallon II said.

As his journey has come full circle — his mom hails from Junction City — Gallon II said it doesn’t bother him that knows he will be compared to his father.

“I understand that because everyone’s son who had his father play, especially at the same school, gets that kind of treatment,” Gallon II said. “It’s not frustrating at all, but it does give me the mindset that I do need to live up for him and make a name for myself. Wherever I set that bar for me is where I need to be.”

He also doesn’t think he has an advantage over anyone else on the team because he’s never been in this system.

“I have always lived with the 16 goals in my household, but I don’t think it was an advantage,” Gallon II said.

But when he steps into Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 1 for the first regular season game against the University of South Dakota, it won’t be the first time he’s been inside the stadium.

“I grew up coming to a few games,” he said. “I saw a Harley Davidson game here and about four or five in total, so I kind of know what it’s like.”

Snyder left a lasting mark on Gallon, and his son has lived by many of those rules and mindsets that his dad preaches to him.

“As an athlete, he’s said to always work hard and compete,” Gallon II said. “I’ve been to a few universities now, and a strong mindset does a lot for an athlete, and I have to have that.”

He also said he’d heard many things about Snyder’s program, but he just wanted to come in with an open mind.

“I had a sense of the culture, but many it’s been great,” Gallon II said. “The main thing has been staying on top of things and keeping up with my school work.”

Snyder said he didn’t initially think about Gallon II’s father helping him when it comes to the system at K-State, but when reminded about that connection, he said it most likely helps.

“I see him doing some things that probably are not extremely familiar to him, but he does it because they are expected,” Snyder said. “He’s probably learned some of that from his father, and he is picking up the process quite well maybe because of his dad. I like the direction he is moving right now.”

Gallon II and the Wildcats will take the field Saturday for the spring game, which kicks off at 1 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to getting after it and just having fun,” Gallon II said. “We’re ready to get to the big games, and the anticipation is here for sure.”