You can tell right when you turn on the tape that Laurel Highlands wide receiver, Rodney Gallagher, is a special talent.

The rising senior is a four-star prospect is heading into his senior season ranked as the nation’s 14th best receiver in the country for the Class of 2023, according to ESPN. But football wasn’t his first choice. Growing up with a father who played basketball at SUNY Buffalo, Gallagher was draw to the hardwood.

“Growing up I really wanted to be basketball player and things really played out on the football side. My dad always thought I was a better player in football and I started realizing that freshman year,” Gallagher said.

His father wasn’t the only one who came to that realization. The Uniontown (Pa.) native quickly drew the attention of Penn State, who offered him that very same year. A chance to stay home, would be a dream for Gallagher.

“My mom and my grandma went there. So when I was offered by them my freshman year, it was a big thing in my family circle and I’m just grateful to have an opportunity to play for a university like that.”

Gallagher, who measure at 6’0″ and 160lbs., has the opportunity to play wherever he wants, but has narrowed his long list of college offers to eight finalists. Penn State firmly planted itself as a finalist for the wide out, along with: Pittsburgh, Texas Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Oregon and Oklahoma State.

Gallagher took an unofficial visit to Penn State on April 30 and after stepping inside Beaver Stadium, he could feel the energy that would come with more than 100,000 screaming Nittany Lion fanatics.

“I mean, it don’t get no better than that. I would love to play in something like that,” he said. “You just get a different feeling when you step onto the field and you come through the cage. It’s just a different feeling when you’re seeing your name on that (score)board when you walk in.”

His next scheduled unofficial visit will come on May 17 to Virginia Tech. When asked what he is looking for in the school he will choose, Gallagher had threw pillars: education, relationships and fit. A school that values him as a person, supports him as a student athlete and one where his game will flourish.

Penn State head coach James Franklin has been known to foster great relationships with recruits and their families and that was something that really resonated with Gallagher when the pair met.

“He’s a great guy and he’s a family guy and he really cares about his players,” Gallagher said about Franklin. ” Asking players on their roster what they think about him, they really think he’s a great dude.”

In his junior season at Laurel Highlands, Gallagher played quarterback, throwing for 1,365 yards, rushing for 1,130 yards and scored 33 total touchdowns.

He has a few more official visits in the summer to West Virginia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Penn State. He announced that he will make his collegiate commitment on July 4.