UNIONTOWN, Pa. — West Virginia’s highest-rated recruit of the 2023 signing class put pen to paper at Laurel Highlands High School Wednesday afternoon.

Rodney Gallagher III, a four-star wide receiver in Pennsylvania, officially signed with the program that he grew up watching. He verbally committed to WVU in May, and then ended all speculation he was headed elsewhere ten days ago by simply saying, “I’m staying a Mountaineer” on social media.

Gallagher is, indeed, a Mountaineer.

“They supported me from day one, and they recruited me hard for all my four years [of high school],” Gallagher told Gold and Blue Nation at his signing ceremony Wednesday. “When I first met coach Brown, I just knew from the start he was a great guy, and he did a lot for me and my family just being there for us. I’m ready to play for him, and I’m just ready to be a part of the program.”

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Gallagher amassed 2,039 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns this season as an athletic quarterback for the Mustangs. Gallagher and Laurel Highlands made it to the second round of the PIAA state playoffs and played to an 8-3 record.

Though he lined up at quarterback during his final prep season, the Mountaineer coaching staff recruited him as a wide receiver. He’s also gifted on the hardwood, and played AAU basketball with Bronny James, the son of hoops icon LeBron James.

Gallagher grew up going to WVU football games as a child. Family members have always been fans of the Mountaineers, and it rubbed off on Gallagher.

“I could say it’s a dream come true, just going to watch guys like Geno Smith, and Tavon Austin and stuff like that,” Gallagher said. “So, when I was younger, I really didn’t understand the game of football as much as I do now, obviously. But, just seeing those guys make plays, and the crowd how much they were behind them, and you know, West Virginia was top-notch.”

Rodney Gallagher, WVU 4 Star recruit

Gallagher wants to be part of the group of players that returns West Virginia to the success that the program enjoyed when Smith and Austin were wearing the Old Gold and Blue. He is a consensus four-star prospect, and is considered one of the three best high school football players in the state of Pennsylvania, according to ESPN and 247Sports.

The talented athlete remembers those days of watching the Mountaineers, and now has the chance to leave his mark on the same field they played on.

“It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be crazy, just looking around and knowing that I’m finally playing college football, and I’ve been watching it for years and years,” Gallagher said when asked what will be going through his mind the first time he steps onto Mountaineer Field as a WVU player. “Me being a part of that, and finally stepping up, and getting a chance to make a play in that [stadium] is going to be surreal.”

Many other regional Power 5 programs, such as Cincinnati, Michigan, Penn State, Pitt and Virginia Tech, offered Gallagher a spot on their roster. The Nittany Lions, in particular, pursued the Uniontown native aggressively.

Despite a late push from James Franklin’s staff, Gallagher remained committed to the Mountaineers.

“It was definitely stressful, just trying to figure out what school I really wanted to go to,” Gallagher said. “There’s a lot of people that tried their best to sell their schools and stuff like that. But you know the ones that actually want you, and I feel like West Virginia was definitely number one when it came to that. That love they showed from the start, it never changed.”

Fifth-year head coach Neal Brown called Gallagher “as integral a recruit that we’ve had here in my tenure.”

The young playmaker has high expectations from those within the program. But he also has high expectations for himself.

“[I want] to be a playmaker and a leader right away,” said Gallagher. “My goal is to be a freshman All-American, get my name out there, impress the [NFL] scouts. So, I got to do whatever I got to do to help my team win.”