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Living Up To No. 1 Seahawks’ Top Pick, Joey Galloway, Has Been Everything - And More

The scouting of talent being as intensive as it is in the National Football League, few surprises arise.

It’s becoming apparent, though, that the Seattle Seahawks might have misjudged first-round draft choice Joey Galloway.

Not that they shouldn’t have picked him - but that he may be even better than they expected.

The qualities that could be measured were certainly stunning - the 4.18 40-yard time, the 400-pound bench press, the 40-inch vertical leap.

In three weeks of training camp, though, Galloway has further astonished the coaching staff with his intelligence and savvy.

“He’s an extremely intelligent young man,” said Bob Bratkowski, Seahawk offensive coordinator. “In many cases, with a rookie, I’d end up following him around all practice. With Joey, I don’t have to do that, I can already treat him like a vet. He has great recall, you tell him something once and that’s all it takes.”

Few people could have been more excited about the appearance of Galloway than Hawk quarterback Rick Mirer, who has not been disappointed early in the preseason.

“He’s doing remarkably well for being so new at it,” Mirer said of his rookie receiving threat. “He works hard and plays like a professional already.”

During one of Galloway’s first game-condition scrimmages in training camp, the offense faced a fourth-and-15 situation with time running out. Galloway sprinted deep, waited for a long ball from Mirer, and then out-leaped a defender for a 50-yard touchdown.

“That’s the kind of play where he can bail us out,” Mirer said. “He gives you a realistic chance of doing that sort of thing, it’s not just throw it deep and pray. He’s going to run past a lot of people and hopefully we can get the ball to him.”

Hawks head coach Dennis Erickson is busy devising ways to do exactly that. In the preseason opener, for instance, Galloway started at receiver, returned punts and also ran a reverse.

“I love this offense,” Galloway said. “Coming from Ohio State, where we passed a couple times a game, this is great.”

His early goals are simply to “adjust to the faster game and then work on all of the things I have to do to get better,” Galloway said. “In a lot of ways, I’ve been playing football for so long, that I’m used to a lot of the things that are going on, but it’s still a whole new challenge.”

Although he’ll collect $7.9 million over the next five years, Galloway hasn’t bothered to treat himself to any high-ticket items.

“Sometimes, after practice, I’ll be sitting in my room and think about calling friends at home, but I stop myself from doing it because I don’t want to put a lot of charges on the calling card,” Galloway said. “I kind of have to remind myself because I sure feel the way I used to when I was broke.”

And he probably will continue to do so, according to old friends.

“I’m sure none of this will change Joey,” said John Magistro, Galloway’s high school coach in Bellaire, Ohio. “There’s never been any phoniness; he’s one of the most genuine people I know.”

Galloway should stand as an excellent role model, Magistro said. “I can remember times when he was in high school and he’d be at a party where there was alcohol or things getting out of hand and he’d give me a call to see if I could give him a ride home,” Magistro said. “He didn’t want to be around that stuff.”

At Ohio State, Galloway caught 91 passes his junior and senior seasons, leading the Big Ten in receiving yards as a junior.

He missed two games as a senior, suspended by the NCAA. Galloway had accepted $200 from a financial advisor during a time when he was sure he was going to come out early and turn pro after his junior year.

Galloway returned the money after deciding to stay for his senior year, but the violation was nonetheless punished.

The main reason for staying, Galloway said, was to finish his work toward a degree in marketing.

“Actually, his academic achievements at Ohio State are about as impressive as his athletic achievements,” Magistro said, referring to Galloway’s winning of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame scholarship - which honors the top 14 senior scholar-athletes in college football.

“Getting his degree was very important,” Erickson said. “He was a great student with a great personality. People will come to see that he’s a guy with unbelievable character.”

And skills to match.

“He’s not just a guy who can stretch the field deep,” Bratkowski said. “He’s a complete player who knows how to use his speed to set up a lot of other routes. Those cornerbacks see his burst of speed and that throws a scare into them and then he can kill them with comeback routes.”

That kind of expectation might be enough to weigh down a rookie, but Galloway shoulders it with apparent ease.

“I don’t pay attention to pressure from the outside, I put pressure on myself to perform the way I think I should,” Galloway said. “Being the top draft pick just means I’m expected to do the same things I expect of myself.

“And that’s to come in and help this team the best I can right from the start.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 Color)

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