After chance meeting at diner, Penn State's Mike Gesicki befriends mother of Michigan QB

  • Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki has befriended the mother of Michigan QB John O'Korn.
  • Gesicki met Paula O'Korn at a State College diner, where she works.
  • Penn State and Michigan will face off Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

It’s a good bet that if someone encounters Penn State’s 6-foot-6, 250-pound Mike Gesicki away from campus, the conversation will turn to football.

But at the Naked Egg, a State College breakfast spot that Gesicki frequents, a conversation with one of the servers there a while back uncovered what will be an interesting subplot to Saturday night’s “White Out” game between the No. 2 Nittany Lions and 19th-ranked Michigan.

Penn State's Mike Gesicki (88) celebrates with DeAndre Thompkins (3) after Gesicki made a 33-yard touchdown reception during the first half of the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2017. Gesicki has befriended the mother of Michigan quarterback John O'Korn.

The server was Paula O’Korn, mother of Wolverines quarterback John O’Korn.

“She was asking me about football and all that kind of stuff when she mentioned that her son played at Michigan,” Gesicki, Penn State’s starting tight end, said Wednesday. “I was asking what position he played and she said ‘quarterback,’ but said he wasn’t starting at the time.

“Obviously, when he got the job and started playing more, I just congratulated her and wished her the best.”

John O’Korn, a 6-foot-4, 211-pounder, is a fifth-year senior from Huntington, Pa., about 30 miles west of State College, and attended Huntingdon Area High School for two years. He then transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after his family moved there to help his grandparents relocate.

O’Korn, who played two years at Houston before transferring to Michigan, became the Wolverines’ starter after Wilton Speight suffered an undisclosed injury Sept. 23 against Purdue. He has completed nearly 55 percent of his passes for 563 yards and one touchdown.

Gesicki, who said his go-to dish at the Naked Egg is the breakfast burrito, said he always has “great interactions” with Paula O’Korn.

“She’s a great lady,” he said. “She’s always asking how the team is doing, asks how I’m doing. I don’t personally know (her son), but I’ve met his mother and he’s a great kid.”

In a story on Michigan’s athletic website, Paula O’Korn called Gesicki “a great guy.”

“He’s phenomenal and he’ll be really kind,” she said. “He’ll ask, ‘How’s John doing?’ I’ll ask how he’s doing. When he came back from his injury, it made me feel real good.”

Gesicki, who is tied for first on the team with four touchdown catches and has 22 receptions this season, was knocked out of the Lions’ game against Indiana with what appeared to be an upper body injury. He returned the following week against Northwestern, and with the help of the bye last week, he said he’s “feeling good, feeling great, excited for Saturday.”

In the article, Paula O’Korn said that her son attended Penn State summer camps and that his favorite players were quarterbacks Daryll Clark and Michael Robinson and linebacker Paul Posluszny.

She knows her customers all will be rooting for Penn State on Saturday night. And that’s OK, because she’ll have her own rooting interest.

“There’s a lot of respect between their side and my side, and I wish them well,” she said. “I just don’t wish them to do well against Michigan.”