Mike Gesicki wants to leave the 2015 season behind him, wants to think only about the future.
At the same time it is serving as something of a springboard for Penn State’s tight end.
“It humbled me, extremely,” he said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday
He caught 13 balls, but had numerous drops — notably early in a Week Two victory over Buffalo, when two potential touchdown passes eluded his grasp. Nor did Gesicki, who will be a junior this fall, distinguish himself as a blocker.
He claims to have left that all behind as soon as the plane landed in State College after the loss to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Now the guy who used to dance his way onto the field for pregame warm-ups has made it his goal to stay after practice for 20 minutes each day. Now the guy who for motivation used to keep screen shots of Twitter hate in his phone — 33 of them, he said last season — claims not to check social media at all.
“If you go through an experience like (last season) and you don’t become better from it, then I think that’s your fault,” he said.
Everything’s different now. He will have a new quarterback, be it Trace McSorley or Tommy Stevens. He has a new offensive coordinator in Joe Moorhead. He has a new position coach in Ricky Rahne.
And most of all, he has a new attitude.
“I thought I worked hard before, and I thought I was doing things above and beyond what I was doing last year,” he said. “Now I’ve continued to take that, and take that so many levels above what I thought I was doing.”
“I thought I worked hard before, and I thought I was doing things above and beyond what I was doing last year. Now I’ve continued to take that, and take that so many levels above what I thought I was doing.”
He is toning out the noise from outside — “I don’t even know what Twitter looks like anymore,” he said — and keeping his nose to the grindstone as spring practice moves along, culminating in the Blue-White Game on April 16.
“I don’t pay attention to what people have to say,” he said. “I don’t listen to what people have to say. I don’t read what people have to write, just because at the end of the day, none of that stuff is important. … I’m really just focused on myself, and I’ve focused on getting better and becoming a lot better tight end.”
Gesicki, listed at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, was a much-ballyhooed recruit when he arrived on campus from New Jersey two years ago, and he had 11 receptions in 2014.
Last year, however, he never got untracked, never emerged as the playmaker many expected him to be. His 13 receptions netted 125 yards and a touchdown, that score coming against Army.
He believes he will flourish under Moorhead — “an energetic, motivational leader,” Gesicki said — who is striving for an even split between the run and the pass. And Rahne has proven to be an exacting positional coach.
“You could block your guy, and block him five yards down the field,” Gesicki said, “but if you didn’t put your hands inside and take the right first step, Coach Rahne’s not going to grade you out and give you the best grade on that play. He’s going to tell you, ‘You did what we asked you to do, but you didn’t do it the way we wanted you to do.’ ”
Most of all, though, Gesicki is asking more of himself. That’s critical to the team, as he suddenly finds himself as the most experienced tight end on the roster now that Kyle Carter has graduated, Adam Breneman has give up football due to injury and Brent Wilkerson has been indefinitely suspended after recently being charged with assault.
“I think absolutely, I’ve matured, and I would not change a thing that I went through last year,” he said, “because I think that I’ve become a better person because of it. I think I’ve become a better athlete because of it. I think I’ve become a much better football player because of it. If I could go back and change anything, I wouldn’t change one thing, because I’m happy with who I am and what kind of football player I am right now.”