Crystal Blue (& White) Persuasion

Bill O'Brien convinced three-star tight end Mike Gesicki to stick with and ultimately commit to Penn State. The New Jersey standout talks about his big decision and why the final choice was so clear.

Manahawkin (N.J.) Southern Regional three-star tight end Mike Gesicki had eliminated Penn State as a possible college destination earlier this year. Two things changed that:

Second-year Nittany Lion coach Bill O'Brien and the power of persuasion. After Gesicki crossed PSU off his list, O'Brien touched base and convinced him to keep the Lions in the running.

“I had ruled out Penn State,” Gesicki admitted. “I wasn't looking at Penn State. Then I spoke with Coach O'Brien and he changed my mind.”

It paid off for Penn State in a big way Thursday night when Gesicki committed to the program. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder had previously narrowed his list to the Nittany Lions and Ohio State.

“Both schools are phenomenal academically,” Gesicki said. “And either way, it was going to be a good decision. Ohio State, with Coach (Urban) Meyer and the way he developed tight ends (at Florida). Penn State and Coach O'Brien; he came from the NFL and the way he utilized tight ends and had one of the best quarterbacks with Tom Brady.”

So what set Penn State apart?

“I can't put my finger on it,” Gesicki said. “I just went with my gut and my heart. I made a list of pros and cons and did all that. It was just my heart.”

The decision comes on the heels of Gesicki's official visit to Penn State last weekend. It ended up being perfect timing for the Nittany Lions, as they waged an epic quadruple overtime battle with then-No. 18 Michigan before coming away with a 43-40 upset victory.

It did not hurt that Gesicki spent plenty of time with Nittany Lion freshman standout quarterback Christian Hackenberg on his visit. Hackenberg led the Lions on an improbable five-play, 80-yard drive in just 23 seconds to tie the game with a QB sneak near the end of regulation.

“Everyone always told me I'd go on a visit and then I'd know what school I wanted to be at,” Gesicki said. “I didn't think that was possible. I was able to hang out with Hack. He's a phenomenal quarterback, a phenomenal football player and a phenomenal person to be around.”

Gesicki also likes the fact that Penn State has what he called “a tight end happy offense” and that the school is relatively close to home.

“If family and friends want to come to a game or visit, it's not a long drive and it's not a flight,” he said. “I can leave home and still be close enough.”

Gesicki said he felt “great” about making his decision. He got the sense the guy who convinced him to keep PSU in the mix was excited about the commitment, too.

“I was on the phone with Coach O'Brien when I committed, and he was all pumped up and was yelling like crazy,” Gesicki said. “It's crazy to think I'll be playing in that offense.”

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