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Penn State Preseason Top 10 Players For 2017: #3 Mike Gesicki

We continue our annual top ten preseason football players of 2017 list as voted on by the BSD staff. In creating this list, we considered players’ abilities, value to the team and past performance, among other factors. We continue our countdown with number 3 on our list, tight end Mike Gesicki.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Gesicki came to Penn State with a lot of hype, a four-star recruit out of New Jersey and one of the members of James Franklin’s first recruiting class at Penn State after being hyped to play under notorious TE-loving coach Bill O’Brien. After O’Brien left, Gesicki stuck with the Nittany Lions and saw time almost immediately - his talent too much to keep off the field.

How He Got Here

Though then-offensive coordinator John Donovan’s offense wasn’t known to be too-pass-catching-TE-happy, Gesicki played in ten games his freshman year, starting one, behind now-Steeler Jesse James and Kyle Carter on the depth chart; he had a relatively unproductive freshman campaign due to that burial, only logging eleven receptions and no touchdowns - but his catch percentage wasn’t back, with those stats logged on 18 targets.

In his second season in the program, the hype was realer, with Gesicki starting seven games - but the hype, that season, proved unfounded. Gesicki’s stats (thirteen receptions on 30 targets for 125 yards and one touchdown) belied what many watchers of Penn State’s subpar offensive play thought, and the hopes for a higher-profile junior campaign were fairly low.

But, boy, did Gesicki blow those out of the water.

In 2016, Gesicki flourished under new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s offense, which utilized his athleticism and route-running - to the tune of almost 700 yards on 48 receptions, with five touchdowns in the fourteen games he started, and all while hauling in over 68% of the targets Trace McSorley threw his way.

Rather than a liability, Gesicki became one of the most, with Chris Godwin, reliable offensive passing game weapons for Moorhead in the championship-winning season.

What To Expect in 2017

More of the same, since Gesicki decided to return to Happy Valley for his fourth and final year of eligibility. He’s now regarded as one of the best tight ends in the conference if not the nation, and was named to the Mackey watch list for his troubles.

Unlike last season, Gesicki won’t take anyone by surprise this year - but that doesn’t mean that opposing defenses can stop him. Gesicki is an incredible mismatch for most defensive backfields, with half a foot (at least) and dozens of pounds on many defenders - making him incredibly difficult to bring down, if not cover. Now that he’s hauling in the balls that come his way, he’s become electrifying and a key cog in the offense for the blue and white.