When high school athletes are recruited, college coaches talk about a scale with which they value recruits. Coaches say they’re looking for kids that will be “impact players” for their program. While graduating senior Drew Gally didn’t play much during his time as a quarterback for the Jumbo football team, he certainly made an impact on the Tufts program.
Gally was on the football, basketball and baseball teams at Marblehead High School, about 45 minutes from Tufts on the north shore. Despite being named Marblehead’s starting quarterback as only a senior, he was the Salem News Offensive Player of the Year, the Daily Item Offensive Player of the Year and a two-time Boston Globe Player of the Week.
Since he didn’t have his breakout year until he was a senior, Gally was late to get recruited and wasn’t sure if he was going to play football in college.
“A lot of the football recruiting is done after your junior year, so I was behind on that,” Gally said. “I didn’t really know if I was going to play college football.”
After getting a call from Kevin Farr, assistant head coach for Tufts football and the team’s Massachusetts recruiting coordinator, Gally took a visit to Medford.
“Loved the school, loved the guys,” he said. “I was all in on going to Tufts.”
Gally recounted the call he received from head coach Jay Civetti. While he had scheduled to visit another school the following weekend, he immediately canceled the trip and accepted the offer from Tufts.
Despite little playing time as a Jumbo, Gally established himself as a leader in the locker room. The quarterback has been especially well known for taking younger teammates under his wing and helping them with their transition to college football.
“Drew’s just a great teammate all around, always looking after the [first-years], making sure that they knew what they were supposed to be doing,” said sophomore quarterback Gunnar Fisher. “When I was coming into camp, I probably had about 80 million questions and Drew sat through and listened to all of them. He answered them, helped me out as best as he could, helped my teammates out as best as he could. He did whatever it took to help the team do better.”
During his time at Tufts, Gally grew to understand the importance of his off-the-field role.
“I think I lead in a different way than a traditional leader does. I wouldn’t say I’m the loudest guy, the star player, the captain or anything [like that],” Gally said. “I try to get people to do the right thing that’s in the best interest of the team. I think that’s a lot through doing it by example.”
In the NFL, it’s common to see backup quarterbacks with headsets on and arms crossed, constantly communicating with the offensive coaches and the starter when he’s not on the field. Some people view backup quarterbacks as an extension of the coaching staff, and there’s a lineage of former backups who became NFL head coaches. Gally embraced all aspects of the prototypical backup quarterback role and did his best to make sure the starting quarterback had everything they needed to be successful.
“If I’m not going to be the one on the field, then [I have] to have that guy who is on the field be successful or have the younger guy who’s next in line be ready to go,” said Gally.
The most important in-game role of the backup quarterbacks at Tufts is to relay play calling signals from the coaching staff on the sideline to the starting quarterback on the field. According to junior quarterback Cam Carti, Gally helped him out with the job.
“His off-the-field presence was always felt … Drew was always the guy that I would turn to when I had questions or when I would get yelled at,” Carti said. “To our team, I think people would agree that it’s almost invaluable because of the role that he plays in relaying the information to the offense and getting the offense, the receivers and all the guys that need to run the routes and run the play ready. Drew was an integral part of that.”
Carti and Gally actually found themselves competing for a spot on the quarterback depth chart during the 2019 season. Carti won the role but said his older teammate showed him nothing but respect after losing the job.
“His mindset was always in a positive place,” Carti said. “No matter what was happening, whether he wasn’t getting reps or the fact that I kind of beat him out for a spot, he never ever did anything negative towards me or treated me differently. He always treated me as a teammate and as a brother.”
Gally will graduate this spring and will always remember being a member of the Tufts football team. He says he’s specifically thankful for all the off-the-field moments: the bus rides, the times at practice and in the locker room and just hanging out with his teammates.
“It was nothing short of incredible,” he said. “My teammates are going to be lifelong friends.”