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Originally published Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Bud Withers

Rickey Galvin could be a ground-game force for WSU football

If 2011 is going to be a prolific offensive season for the Cougars, Galvin must be a good complement to quarterback Jeff Tuel.

Seattle Times colleges reporter

quotes The skill position players look really good this year. Positive signs about Tuel and... Read more
quotes Mitz and Galvin will be Wazzu's version of "Thunder and Lightning"...and help... Read more
quotes Hope he turns out to be a good one. The Cougars are due some success. They've been down... Read more

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PULLMAN — Rickey Galvin speaks the words more matter-of-factly than bombastically.

"My game on the field is kind of shocking," he says. "I'm shifty and can make big plays."

In Washington State's best offensive years, there was always a worthy running wingman to the school's glitzy history of quarterbacks. Drew Bledsoe had Shaumbe Wright-Fair. Ryan Leaf had Michael Black. Jason Gesser had a committee of Jonathan Smith, Jermaine Green and John Tippins.

If 2011 is going to be one of those prolific offensive seasons, Galvin would be Tonto to Jeff Tuel, the quarterback.

No doubt that has been part of the Cougars' problem in recent years. Just when you think they've got a running back capable of striking up the band, they don't.

Unofficially, it goes back to when Jonathan Stewart was amassing five stars as a prospect at Timberline High in Lacey. WSU was in the picture — second, probably — but Oregon won the title.

The same year the Cougars were wooing Galvin out of Berkeley High, they had a commitment from another Northern California back, Adonis Smith. Then Northwestern closed hard, Smith reversed course, and he played as a freshman for the Wildcats in 2010, averaging 4.8 yards on 41 carries.

Last fall, WSU thought it had a sleeper in Damarcus James, going to Demopolis, Ala., and securing his commitment. Alas, he ultimately couldn't reconcile the distance from Pullman, and he ended up at Jacksonville State.

And then there was Spokane's Bishop Sankey, who was committed to WSU seemingly only until a better offer came along. Washington provided it, and he took it.

"I try to stay away from that," says Galvin, referring to the recruiting near-misses. "I really don't follow it. But I hear it from players or coaches."

The best news for WSU fans, then, is twofold: Galvin is on campus, and he's healthy.

It was thoroughly in keeping with WSU's recent luck with running backs when Galvin took the field five minutes into the opener last September at Oklahoma State. Throughout fall camp, coach Paul Wulff had downplayed Galvin, believing his talents might catch defenses by surprise.

Let Galvin recount his first college snap, a cruel term of double-entendre:

"It was a sweep to the left side. As I was running to the left, I saw a seam. As I was cutting back, I tried to get over one of my teammates who'd been knocked over. I got off-balance."

He put out his right arm to cushion his fall. Snap. He broke his forearm, ending his first college season after maybe seven seconds.

Galvin is obviously tough-minded. He had surgery the next morning, went home for a week and taught himself to take class notes left-handed. He doesn't look back a lot. He never has watched video of the play.

"It made me feel a lot better to see my mom," he said. "She said, 'Everything is going to be OK. Everything happens for a reason.' "

Being philosophical stands you in good stead when the surroundings have been hard. Some of it hits Galvin close to home.

"My dad is currently incarcerated," he says. Asked for details, Galvin says, "He hasn't spoken about what happened. He said it's best if I just stay focused on what I'm doing.

"His name is Rickey. I'm a junior. We're real close."

Galvin ran for 2,264 yards as a senior at Berkeley High. He liked the family vibe so much at WSU that he committed — calling a Cougars assistant coach while on a visit to San Diego State.

"I felt it was too fun, that I'd be distracted," Galvin said, referring to SDSU. "I just wasn't feeling it."

It remains to be seen how much pounding the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Galvin can sustain, but he knows the rap on smaller backs.

"That's a big thing for me," he said. "I don't care that no one thinks I can run between the tackles because of my size. I know that when I get the opportunity, I'll show up."

Showing up to play running back for the Cougars — now there's a concept.




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