University of Miami

Homecoming ‘kind of cool’ for Miami Hurricanes left guard Alex Gall

University of Miami offensive lineman Alex Gall during practice at on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at Greentree Field.
University of Miami offensive lineman Alex Gall during practice at on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at Greentree Field. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Amid a University of Miami roster with more than 100 names, only one has the state of Ohio next to it.

And that player — 6-5, 312-pound starting left guard Alex Gall — grew up 20 minutes northeast of the University of Cincinnati, from which he said his mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles and goodness knows who else, graduated.

Little sister Madison, a UC freshman, will be the next Gall to graduate as a Bearcat.

But be assured that every single one of them will be at the nationally televised game Thursday night at Cincinnati (2-2) cheering for the Hurricanes (3-0).

Nippert Stadium is where Gall rooted for the Bearcats with his family as a season-ticket holder, and where he played several games for Archbishop Moeller High School.

Gall, a junior, said Monday he expects “probably around 60” family members and friends to attend the game at the newly renovated stadium, which expects a 40,000-strong sellout.

“Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, little cousins, family friends since forever, dad’s high school friends, work friends, everybody,” he said. “A lot of people.”

Here’s another fun Gall connection: His high school offensive line coach, Doug Rosfeld, is now director of player development for the Bearcats.

“He was an exceptional football player,’’ Rosfeld wrote Monday in an email about Gall. “Alex played the game with physicality and toughness that was uncommon among linemen his age. His old-school toughness is fun to watch. I don’t think he even wears gloves or wrist tape!

“He is a first-class young man and comes from a great family. I hope I get a chance to talk with him after the game.”

Gall called it “kind of cool” to be playing at Nippert. “It’s different being on the other side of the ball from them and looking across and [seeing] the guy that coached me all the way through high school and got me to where I am now, and guys that I played with.”

Formerly rated a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 17 offensive tackle by Scout.com, Gall said he was offered a scholarship by the Bearcats, but “wanted a chance to get away and grow up.

“… Being this far away from home, it’s not like I could just call my parents and say, ‘Hey, I need help,’ Gall said during fall camp. “I can’t take my laundry home and have my mom do it. I’ve got to pay my bills on my own. … It just gave me a chance to become a man.”

After playing sparingly last season on special teams because of a back injury, he has grown up on the field, too.

The biggest question concerning this year’s team going into the season was how well the young offensive line would protect quarterback Brad Kaaya. After three games, Miami is ranked 25th nationally of 126 FBS teams, with three sacks allowed.

Cincinnati has five sacks in four games.

The Canes are 61st nationally in rushing offense (184.3 yards per game), with Joe Yearby ninth nationally per carry (7.59 yards). Together, with the help of the young line, Yearby and backup Mark Walton have lost just one yard.

“He’s really matured,” Al Golden said Monday of Gall, when asked about his homecoming. “He’s working really hard. He’s got leadership qualities and he’s starting to feel comfortable in that position — and holding guys accountable. He’s gotten so much better.

“We’ve all been in that situation where we’re playing in front of people back home. He has to relax, block it all out and just worry about what he has to do every play.”

Offensive coordinator James Coley said Monday that Gall has improved each game, and he’ll have to continue Thursday. “Guys are going to come after him [with] high motors,” Coley said, “and they’re kind of built like he is. They have a low center of gravity — they’re strong.”

“… I think as a unit, they’ve handled that sack situation pretty [well].”

Gall thinks differently.

“Three sacks are too much,’’ he said. “We’re looking every week to have Brad [Kaaya] not get hit at all.”

Other than being thrilled to soon see his family, Gall seems unfazed by his return to Cincinnati.

“It’s been the same focus as every other game,” he said. “We’re ready to play.”

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