Practice Gives Gesicki A Break

MANAHAWKIN, N.J. -- After months of unofficial visits and non-stop recruiting, Southern Regional High's Mike Gesicki is thrilled to be back at practice and preparing for his senior season. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound receiver spoke about that, and also what is going on in recruiting, following Wednesday's practice.

After a spring of summer of visits, which took Mike Gesicki into Florida, out to the Midwest, up to Yale, over to Penn State and up the road to Rutgers, he is back enjoying being a high school.

Gesicki, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound receiver/tight end at Manahawkin (N.J.) Southern Regional, has taken over a leadership role as he tries to lead the Rams back to the South Jersey Group V championship game, and in the process has put recruiting to the side for a bit.

"It's awesome," he said after Wednesday's practice. "It was great because in the offseason you lift, you run, you do all the agility stuff and now it's fun just to strap it up again. We're just in helmets so we're doing fundamental stuff, but at least it's getting back on the grass and running routes, catching balls."

Gesicki exploded onto the recruiting scene after a superb junior season in which he caught 50 passes for 954 yards and nine touchdowns, but the Rams have to replace eight starters on defense, its quarterback and another receiver from last year's team.

And that is where Gesicki's focus is as he takes a quick break from recruiting.

"We lose a lot, but we're a lot of hard workers," he said. "We'll be fine."

However, although football practice is at the forefront, recruiting is lurking.

He made visits to Miami, Florida State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Duke, Yale and Rutgers over the summer, and he plans on making a return trip to Rutgers. The tentative date is set for Aug. 27.

"I haven't really been anywhere that I haven't liked," Gesicki said. "I went to Ohio State, and that was great. I went to Miami, and that was awesome. Florida State was great. I went to Yale, and that was awesome.

"I went to Duke and that was a lot better than I expected. I went in there with an open mind and knowing the history of the program and I like where they're going. Coach (David) Cutcliffe is a good guy."

Gesicki's latest two trip were to Wisconsin and Penn State, and he left both campuses feeling very good about the schools.

"Penn State was awesome," he said. "It was about the fourth time I've been up there. I went up for a camp last year, went up for the Ohio State game, went up again in the spring and went up again the other day. It gets better and better."

He is also impressed by how coach Bill O'Brien is building the program despite the NCAA sanctions.

"Penn State, with everything that happened there, coach O'Brien is going a great job with those players," he said.

The trip to Wisconsin re-enforced Gesicki's thoughts about that school as well.

"I really love Wisconsin," he said. "I like where they're going. I like they're offense. I like how I fit in there and coach (Gary) Andersen is a great guy."

Ohio State provides a similar feeling.

"I love Ohio State," Gesicki said. "I've been up there twice. Coach (Urban) Meyer is a phenomenal coach, and he was able to do things with my position at Florida and he said, ‘We can do the same things he did there with me.' Their program has really skyrocketed since he got there and Ohio State just has a tremendous tradition of football.

"I don't really have a favorite yet but I really do like Ohio State."

Finally, Gesicki said he is fond of coach Kyle Flood, and the proximity to his home and the fact it was his first offer are added benefits.

"I love Rutgers," he said. "Coach Flood was the first coach to sit down and look at me in my face and tell me I had a scholarship to go there and play football. They're so close. It would be pretty cool to have friends, family and everybody come up and watch the games and have everybody close and stay in touch. They think the world of me and I think the world of them."

Rutgers is telling Gesicki the mix of staying home and the move to the Big Ten give him everything he needs in a school.

"They think I can go in there and make a huge impact and kind of be on the team that changes Rutgers football and brings them into the Big Ten and helps them out," Gesicki said. "They just got a huge commit with (Manalapan High receiver) Saeed Blacknall going there. I talk to Saeed and different things like that, and I like Rutgers and where they're going."

Gesicki plans to make a few official visits before announcing his decision in either late October or early November.

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