Penn State Player Spotlight: Jesse Della Valle

posted September 25, 2014 in CommRadio, Sports by Alex Bobbyn

Jesse Della Valle will suit up for his last homecoming game this Saturday, hoping to help extend Penn State’s 4-0 start.  Della Valle, a fifth year senior, has been returning punts for the Nittany Lions since the 2012 season, when he ranked third in the Big Ten with an average of 7.6 yards on 15 returns.  Last season he increased his average to 8.7 yards.

The Nittany Lions are already four weeks into the 2014 season, and their punt return game hasn’t shown any life. 

“I haven’t been able to return quite as many punts as I would’ve liked,” said Della Valle.  “The previous years that I’ve returned punts we’ve had two returners back.  So this year being the only returner back is a little bit to get used to.”

Della Valle has been fair catching a majority of the punts this season, unable to provide a spark that James Franklin would like. 

Although he’s a veteran returner, Della Valle is still getting adjusted to the new one-man retuning scheme being implemented.  He knows that he’s going to need to pick up some type of positive yardage off the return, but he also knows that fair catching is sometimes the best option.

Della Valle also stars at the strong safety position, backing up fellow senior Adrian Amos.  In his 2013 season, Della Valle earned two starts, but appeared in every game.  He recorded 21 tackles (13 solo), one fumble recovery, and one pass break up. 

Beaver Stadium will certainly be lively on this homecoming Saturday, which may have an affect on a struggling Northwestern team.  A loud student section may very well interfere with offensive communication, putting Northwestern in difficult fourth down situations.

Della Valle will be waiting for those opportunities, even if the crowd is a little noisy. 

“As far as crowd noise and things like that, I’m not really concentrated on that at all.  I’m more or less worried about where the pressure is coming from, how close the guys are getting to me, and whether I should fair catch it or return it.”

Penn State’s defense ranks sixth in the country for points allowed, surrendering just 11 points per game.  If they can continue to play well and cause third down stops, Della Valle will be given many opportunities to return the ball this Saturday.  

You can catch Della Valle and the rest of the Nittany Lions take on Northwestern at 12 p.m. this Saturday on ComRadio.  Coverage begins at 9 a.m. with The Tailgate Show.

Alex Bobbyn is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism.  To contact him, email him at