Many athletes have come and gone through the ranks of FAMU’s elite football program, but few as talented or special as the late, great Willie Galimore. Galimore came to FAMU as a basketball recruit, but when spotted by the legendary Jake Gaither his career took a different path: football.
Legend has it that Gaither never saw him run until the spring of 1954, Galimore’s sophomore year. Then he decided to place Galimore as his starting tailback. Galimore earned fame for his off-tackle plays, which were considered Gaither’s “bread and butter” during his era. By the time Galimore graduated in 1957, the All-American had the Rattlers’ longest touchdown run (98 yards), and the most rushing yards in a game (295 yards). He finished his career with a total of 3,952 yards.
Often referred to as Galloping Gal, Galimore went on to play professional football after being drafted by the Chicago bears in 1956. He gained the reputation as one of the most feared breakaway runners in the league, setting a team record of four touchdowns in a game during his first season. In 1958 he received the Eisenhower Trophy as the most valuable player for the Armed Forces Benefit Game against Cleveland. A year later he was named to the All-Pro team.
During his seven seasons in the NFL, Galimore gained 4,186 total yards and scored 26 total touchdowns. He was also a member of the Bears1963 championship team.
Galimore’s career came to a tragic end when was killed in a car accident outside of the Chicago Bears training camp. He was 29 years old. However, his memory continues in the hearts and minds of many FAMU alumni today. He is still considered one of the greatest football players to play for FAMU. His jersey numbers at FAMU and with the Bears, are both retired.
Galimore is still an inspiration for Rattlers in the 21st century. His story will be told for generations to come. He is one of the many reasons why the Rattlers continue to strike, strike and strike again!