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Penn State Football: Gesicki Enjoying Benefits Of Hard Work As Season Continues

by on September 22, 2016 11:30 AM

At this point Mike Gesicki's career is well documented, the potential and the hype followed by glimpses of what could have been sprinkled in with more dropped passes than big plays to his name.

But somewhere on Penn State's flight back from Jacksonville after the Nittany Lions' loss to Georgia in the Taxslayer Bowl he decided that things were going to change. Gesicki didn't care about how many plays he made or if he was the big man on campus, he was going to work hard and let the rest take care of itself. As his roommate Nick Scott tells him every day, "Go be Mike today."

"In my old mindset, I wanted people to know who I was," Gesicki said. "I wanted to go out and make big plays. I wanted to be the guy. And when that kind of stuff didn't happen for me, I wasn't doing the things I want to do. Now, I don't care if I walk down the street if nobody knows me or if everybody knows me. I don't care if I make 100 or 0 plays on Saturday, as long as Penn State wins, that's all I care about."

And so he did, frequently the last off the field, always the first with a smile, Penn State's most veteran tight end has embraced what it means to put in all the extra effort. The result, finally feeling nerves before the game despite it being his third year at the collegiate level. Finally realizing how much work plays into how much you care.

A sometimes terrifying realization.

"Before this year I never used to be nervous," Gesicki said on Wednesday after practice. "I never used to be this nervous before a game. I knew my role I knew what I could do. And before the first game this year I was so nervous, I was just sitting in my locker thinking about everything and it kind of clicked with me. I was talking Saeed (Blacknall) and he said it's 'because you've never put in this much work before, it has never been this important to you, for it to like not to work after all of this. You did all the work you need to do, now just go out and do it.""

And so far it has paid off, nine receptions for 158 yards on the year with a leaping 52-yard catch that will rival any of the year's best. The yardage is a career high and the receptions just five shy of a new mark as well.

But perhaps more importantly Gesicki looks happy, or in the very least he looks a little bit more like Mike again.

"You were Mike today!" Scott yelled to Gesicki following Penn State's win over Temple.

And Penn State will take all the Mike it can get.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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