Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Te Gesicki Improves after Fix in Attitude

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Te Gesicki Improves after Fix in Attitude

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ahead of Penn State's season opener against Kent State, Mike Gesicki sat in the locker, stressed.

The junior tight end had never been nervous before games before in his career. But this season, he couldn't stop thinking about everything: What he had to do, what his role was, possibly the mistakes he had made in a disappointing last season.

He turned to junior wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, saying he couldn't believe how nervous he was. His teammate had a simple answer as to why.

"It's because you've never put in this much work," Gesicki said Blacknall told him. "Nothing has ever been this important to you for you to go out there and maybe for it not to work out."

After a much-hyped sophomore season turned out lackluster at best, Gesicki underwent an offseason mental makeover starting as soon as he stepped off the plane back from the TaxSlayer Bowl. Heading into the Michigan game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Ann Arbor, it seems to be working.

Through three games in 2015, Gesicki made just four catches for 20 yards, his longest reception just 7 yards. A year later, Gesicki has caught nine passes for 158 yards, including the longest reception of his career with a spectacular 52-yard grab Saturday against Temple.

He already has surpassed his freshman year yardage when he had 114 yards on 11 catches and his sophomore year tally when he had 125 yards on 13 catches. He also has doubled his all-time touchdown tally, scoring on a 30-yard pass in that season opener against Kent State.

Part of these vastly improved statistics is because of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead's new system, which has historically been tight-end friendly. But the more important change was Gesicki's attitude.

Before: "I wanted people to know who I was. I wanted to go out there and make big plays. I wanted to be the guy. …

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