Player Spotlight: Mike Gesicki
Mike Gesicki is considered one of the top tight ends in college football. It may look easy to him now, but he had to overcome adversity to become the great player he’s been at Penn State. As a freshman, Gesicki appeared in all 13 games, had 11 catches and averaged more than 10 yards per catch. Those are fairly impressive statistics for a rookie and Gesicki was rewarded by being named to the BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
Going into his sophomore season, great things were expected of this former volleyball/basketball player. However, Gesicki’s second- year campaign went a little differently than anticipated and was marked by inconsistent play with dropped balls and missed blocks. Gesicki could have gotten down and could have thrown in the preverbal towel. Instead, he dug deeper within himself and sought to achieve his full potential.
“Ya know, obviously everybody’s heard the story 100,000 times - didn’t go the way I wanted it to, all that kind of stuff and ultimately like you said I could’ve packed it in, but that’s not who I am. I’m a competitor. I had goals and aspirations and going into that spring ball I would write in my notebook, every single day, the first thing I would write is “I am the best tight end in the Big Ten.” - every single day...If anyone would’ve read that they would’ve laughed at me at that point in my life...but I knew what I was capable of,” Gesicki said.
In his junior year, Gesicki’s turned his words into a reality by leading the Big Ten in receptions by a tight end with 48. Gesicki started all 14 games and had four or more catches in seven of his last 12 games. He more than doubled his career receiving yardage total entering the season. Gesicki’s improvement did not go unnoticed by the college football world as he earned a number of awards, including the Midseason Watch List and All-Big Ten second team. However, Gesicki did not earn his success by just speaking his words into existence, he put the extra work behind them.
“I started staying after practice (at) spring ball, two years ago, and initially it started with tight ends...and in the off-season me and Daesean [Hamilton] would get on the jugs and catch 200 balls every single day,” Gesicki said.
In his final season, Gesicki has continued to be a stand-out on the field having caught a touchdown pass in five consecutive games, including multiple touchdown grabs in the first two games. Of his 48 catches this season, 20 have gone for a first down or touchdown.
Gesicki’s was recently named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, named after the former Syracuse and Baltimore Colt who is considered by many to be the greatest tight end of all time. Gesicki and seven other semi-finalists must wait until November 20 to see who has been named a finalist for the award.
Before then, Gesicki and the rest of the Penn State seniors will play their last home game in Beaver Stadium. In this Saturday’s annual “Stripe Out” game, the Nittany Lions are looking for a crucial victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Next year, you can expect to watch Gesicki to be playing on Sundays somewhere in the NFL.
Devon D’Andrea is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.