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Penn State Football: Like The Program, Gesicki Is Focused On The Little Things

by on April 11, 2017 12:30 PM

Mike Gesicki addressed the media over a in-and-out conference call connection on Tuesday morning but the message was crystal clear, the senior is back to finish what he started.

"There were a few aspects that played into me coming back; one, first and foremost, was the guys that we had coming back for another year," Gesicki said on Tuesday. "We have a bunch of guys back that are veteran guys, we're an older team now, and we have a chance for success that we've been shooting for, for a few years now."

"I didn't want to see that opportunity pass by. There are some big steps to improve my game and make my game better, as well."

It's a honest answer for the Penn State tight end that has seen just about everything during his time in State College. After a career-year in 2016 it was undoubtedly tempting to see what the NFL had to offer, but for all of his improvements Gesicki knows that he isn't a finished product just yet.

The improvements are small but meaningful; increased speed, yards after catch, breaking tackles, becoming a better blocker. Little things but the difference between great and elite.

In many respects that's the same challenge that faces Penn State as an entire team. The Nittany Lions were not far off from beating USC and were perhaps a healthy Brandon Bell away from doing so. Earlier in the season Penn State was simply not the same team and nearly beat Pitt in spite of that. Against Michigan, it's hard to imagine a path to victory, but playing by in large without any meaningful names at linebacker made that game largely a forgone conclusion.

So in 2017 Penn State -- like Gesicki-- doesn't have to do much different, just improve in the details.

For the New Jersey native it might even be as simple as staying the same weight all year long.

"There was a lot going on to help improve my strength," Gesicki said of his winter workouts. "There was a time during the season when I dropped down; I started the season at 252 [pounds], then I'd drop down to 240, I'd get sick sometimes, so trying to build my weight up. I got it up to about 258 pounds [this winter], which was big for me, and I was able to run and jump and do everything at a high level."

For the team, it could be as simple as third down conversions. The Nittany Lions ranking 118th nationally in that category, nearly 15-percent less than Ohio State, leading the Big Ten.

So for both Penn State and Gesicki, they will enter the summer hoping to take the next step, and for both it will come down to the little things. 

And if they do that, the B1G things will take care of themselves.

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