A pair of former Shore Conference superstars were recognized as being among the very best college football players in the nation on Tuesday when the Associated Press announced its 2017 preseason All-American teams.

Penn State senior tight end Mike Gesicki, a Southern Regional graduate, and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, a Red Bank Catholic graduate, were each named first team AP All-Americans ahead of the 2017 season, shining a spotlight on two of the best to ever come out of the Shore Conference.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Tight end Mike Gesicki #88 of the Penn State Nittany Lions makes an 11-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against the USC Trojans during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Gesicki emerged as one of the nation's top tight ends last season when he set Penn State single-season tight end records with 48 receptions for 679 yards. He also tied Penn State's single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end with five. His play helped lead Nittany Lions to the Big Ten championship game where he caught three passes for 58 yards and a touchdown in Penn State's 38-31 victory over Wisconsin. Gesicki was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media panel. He has been selected to the Mackey Award preseason watch list for the second consecutive season.

Given his 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame and offensive production, Gesicki has the potential to be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Nelson, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound juggernaut, has been a force along the Fighting Irish offensive line since his arrival in South Bend. He started all 12 games last season and has 23 career starts. He did not allow a sack and surrendered only one quarterback hit in 439 pass block snaps last season, and has yielded just three sacks and three quarterback hits in 850 career pass block snaps. A relentless and punishing run blocker, Nelson is also a potential first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

USC v Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 17: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after a 10-yard touchdown reception by Corey Robinson against the USC Trojans in the fourth quarter of the game at Notre Dame Stadium on October 17, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

During his career at Southern, Gesicki was the Rams' all-time leading receiver with 103 catches for 1,817 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was a Shore Sports Network All-Shore wide receiver in his junior and senior seasons. As a junior he helped Southern reach the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV title game, the second ever sectional final appearance for the Rams. In a quarterfinal game against Eastern the Rams won a 30-27 thriller over an Eastern Regional team that featured Tom Flacco at quarterback and current New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple. Gesicki and Apple matched up against each other all game with Gesicki catching three passes for 92 yards.

Nelson was part of a Red Bank Catholic team that went 30-3 during his three years as a starter, including 28 straight wins against Shore Conference teams as part of an overall 40-game winning streak against the Shore from 2010-2014.


Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.

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