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Penn State Football: No Surprises As Nittany Lions Impress At Pro Day

by on March 20, 2018 2:40 PM

Penn State football's Pro Day was full of stars but short on the unexpected as nearly two dozen former Nittany Lions showed up at Holuba Hall to showcase their skills like they had for much of their careers.

"I knew what my numbers would be." tight end Mike Gesicki said of his time at the NFL Combine. "I thought about doing the broad jump again but decided not to."

So Gesicki ran a few routes for scouts and coaches before calling it day. Having come out of Indianapolis and the Combine as perhaps the most impressive tight end in the draft from an athletic standpoint, he didn't have much left to prove. With 32 teams having applied for credentials to Penn State's Pro Day and at least 30 spotted, including now Steelers staff member and former Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, they knew what his numbers would be too.

And so did Saquon Barkley, who answered more questions about his recently announced pregnancy of his girlfriend, than anything about his NFL future. Barkley went into the Combine ready to impress and did that and more, living up to his almost unobtainable hype. He was ready to test again on Tuesday, but after learning that there weren't any running back coaches in attendance, opted to let his combine numbers stand.

"I'm past that point," Barkley said with a grin, and a Nike deal in hand, when asked about standing around in workout clothes.

Even for those looking to prove their worth in front of scouts for the first time, they did so in a way that reflected long careers a few weeks from taking the next step. Saeed Blacknall caught passes smoothly, earning a sit down conversation with the Dolphins, Jason Cabinda looked trimmed and in the best shape of his life. DaeSean Hamilton turned heads with a 40-yard dash in the 4.47 range, faster than he might appear on tape. Christian Campbell ran fast, Troy Apke continued to see his stock rise.

Nobody really did anything bad, a slip here or there, but everything was has it had been the past several years. Talented players looking the part all the while.

"These are a bunch of guys who work," Cabinda said still catching his breath. "You guys don't see us getting up at 4 a.m for those winter workouts. If there's a race, leaning across the line to hear our name called out."

For Penn State replacing all of that work ethic will be a big part of what will define the success and failures of the 2018 season. The Nittany Lions are replacing a lot of leaders, albeit with plenty remaining. But if Pro Day was an example of anything, it was that work ethic that had helped reinvent Penn State football into the program it is today.

"We treated this like any other practice," Gesicki said. "Went out on the jugs machine and caught 100 passes and then came in here."

And catching 100 more afterwards, like any other practice?

"That's a good question." Gesicki replied with a laugh.



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