Even though he caught just 24 passes in his first two years at Penn State, junior tight end Mike Gesicki has made a major impression. The former Southern Regional High School standout has been named to the John Mackey Preseason Award Watch List, which is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end in the country. Gesicki is getting ready for what many believe will be a breakout junior season following a sophomore campaign in which he caught 13 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. As a true freshman he was named to the BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman team after making 11 catches for 114 yards.

The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Gesicki was a three-sport standout at Southern (Class of 2014) earning numerous awards in volleyball and basketball in addition to football.

The Manahawkin resident is one of five former Shore Conference players expected to make major contributions to the Nittany Lions program this fall along with redshirt junior defensive end Garrett Sickels (Red Bank), junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan), sophomore linebacker Manny Bowen (Barnegat) and redshirt junior punter Chris Gulla (Toms River North). Sickels will be one of the starting defensive ends, Blacknall is part of a deep receiving corps, Bowen will see action on special teams and as a backup linebacker and Gulla is battling for the starting punting spot.

Penn State opens the 2016 season at home against Kent State at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday September 3.

Sign Up For The SSN Newsletter

Please fill out this form to sign up for the Shore Sports Network newsletter.