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Penn State TE Mike Gesicki plans bounce-back season

JOE JULIANO
Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
  • Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki was a prized recruit in 2014.
  • In 2015, Gesicki had just 13 catches and suffered a number of drops.

Mike Gesicki had his bags all packed by the time Penn State's chartered flight left Jacksonville, Fla., after the team's loss to Georgia in the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl, except for one thing he left behind.

The 2015 season.

The tight end, one of the prized recruits of the 2014 class, had a second straight mediocre season for the Nittany Lions, catching just 13 passes and suffering a number of drops. He resolved on the flight home to work harder than ever to be a dependable target and a reliable blocker while fulfilling the potential he showed at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, N.J.

"You're going to go through adversity ... times that aren't exactly what you're looking forward to," the 6-foot-6, 252-pound junior said this week. "There's two roads you can go down: You can either take it as a positive and work to get better from it or you could just let it kind of just continue to attack you. If you go through adversity and you don't get better from it, then you handled the whole situation the wrong way.

"I won't change anything that has happened in my playing career at Penn State. I would say that it's kind of made me into the player that I'm going to be this year, and it has turned me into more of a leader, more of a role model for the younger guys. Most importantly, I think it's going to help me improve my play this season, and that's something I'm looking forward to."

Penn State coach James Franklin said Gesicki has matured from his experiences, and has been "very businesslike" in training camp preparing for the season.

"I think we all know he's got a lot of ability," the coach said, "and I think coming out and having some success and building on that with his confidence is going to be important. He's really embraced the physical aspects of the position. I think he's the guy that everybody within our program is expecting to have a big year, a breakout year for us."

Gesicki said he's been doing some extra work before and after practice, but it's more a matter of quality of work and not how much time he spends on the field.

"I look at it as, everybody around the country goes to practice and does what their coaches ask them to do during practice," he said. "I think that what you have to do is, do anything in your power to separate yourself from people around the country and your competition. So I just try to pride myself in doing extra work so when Saturday is all said and done, I can't look back and say, 'I should have done that.' "

Gesicki is eagerly looking forward to the new up-tempo attack installed by offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. He feels the attack will give the tight ends "a chance to be effective in the passing game, whether it's blocking or receiving or whatever this offense is asking them to do."

Penn State head coach James Franklin a Hall of Famer

The biggest factor with Gesicki is attitude. He's become a mentor to the younger players in his position group. And his mind-set is all business.

"I'd say I'm a completely different player on the field," he said. "I kind of attack everything differently. I'm much more focused and determined to reach my full potential. I have a mind-set and an understanding of where I want to be when that game's over with and the performance that I want to show. I'd say that I've just matured."