STAFFORD TOWNSHIP – Mike Gesicki admitted the Penn State football coaching change shook him up.

It took one visit from new coach James Franklin to put Gesicki’s mind at ease. Franklin replaced Bill O’Brien, who resigned in early January to become the coach of the Houston Texans.

Gesicki, a Southern Regional High School senior, signed a national letter of intent Wednesday morning to attend Penn State on a scholarship.

The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Gesicki is one of the nation’s top tight end prospects. He is too strong for defensive backs to cover and too fast for linebackers to keep up with.

Gesicki verbally committed to Penn State in October. He chose the Nittany Lions over Ohio State. Those were two of the 22 Football Bow; Subdivision schools that offered him scholarships.

But after O’Brien left, media and fans began to wonder if Gesicki would change his mind.

Ohio State tight end coach Tim Hinton watched Gesicki play basketball for Southern on Thursday Jan. 16.

Two days later Franklin and a couple of Penn State assistants watched Gesicki and the Rams play St. Augustine Prep in basketball. Afterward, Franklin visited Gesicki’s home in Manahawkin.

Franklin and Gesicki weren’t strangers. Franklin was the coach of Vanderbilt and had recruited Gesicki for that school.

Penn State is an offense on the rise. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was one of the nation's top freshmen last season.

Gesicki already has solved one problem that faces all incoming college freshmen.

He plans to room with Saeed Blacknall, a wide receiver from Manalapan, who also signed a letter of Wednesday to play at Penn State.

Gesicki’s family attended Wednesday’s signing ceremony at Southern. Gesicki sat between his mother, Donna, and father, Mike.

 

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.