Mike Gesicki

Southern Regional's Mike Gesicki makes a catch over Toms River East's Matt Gudzak during the first half at Southern Regional High School Nov 10, 2012.

Staff photo by Edward Lea

STAFFORD TOWNSHIP - Mike Gesicki walked through the tunnel onto the University of Wisconsin football field this summer.

He watched film with high-profile college coaches such as Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Bill O'Brien of Penn State. Gesicki even met Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Gesicki also tried on several college football jerseys.

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Now all he has to do is pick one.

The Southern Regional High School receiver begins his senior season tonight as one of New Jersey top college prospects. Southern hosts Freehold Township at 6:30 p.m.

Twenty-two Football Bowl Subdivision colleges - including Ohio State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Penn State, Miami (Fla.) and Florida State - have offered the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Gesicki a scholarship and the meetings with coaches and touring of college campuses and stadiums is all part of the recruiting process.

"It's been hectic, but it's probably one of the best hectic situations I ever had to deal with," Gesicki said. "I've been blessed to be put in this situation and have the ability to live my dream out."

Gesicki is a dream recruit for multiple colleges. He said he expects to make his decision next month. He is considering a number of factors, including academics, coaches, atmosphere and how often his family can watch him play.

"I'm personally not ready to make the decision," Gesicki said last week. "Every single day I switch back and forth. I say, 'I want to go here. I want to go there.' I'm narrowing it down. College is not just a four-year decision. It's a 40-year decision."

Gesicki wows fans and recruiters with uncommon athletic ability. He caught 50 passes for 970 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Gesicki is too big for defensive backs to cover and too fast for linebackers to keep up with.

He also excels in basketball and volleyball. He led the Southern volleyball team to a state title last spring. Colleges have shown interest in those sports. His performance in a basketball playoff game against Atlantic City last March was one of the best efforts of last season's state tournament.

Southern lost the South Jersey Group IV quarterfinal 61-56 to Atlantic City (the eventual state champion), but Gesicki brought Atlantic City fans out of their seats and had the crowd trading high fives with 24 points, five blocked shots and a pair of powerful dunks.

Gesicki's father, also named Mike, is an airline pilot, so Gesicki has been able to travel to make unofficial visits to colleges all over the country. Gesicki also intends to visit some colleges in the next few weeks to soak up some game-day atmosphere. He plans to attend the Michigan at Penn State game on Oct. 12.

Being recruited - although a nice problem to have - can be a heady and sometimes overwhelming process.

Players get texts and phone calls from coaches. Reporters phone to ask if a decision has been made. Gesicki even hears from each college's fans via his Twitter account.

"Overall he's handled it well," Southern coach Chuck Donohue said. "It's been a very smooth process. When you have a player like that, it kind of takes care of itself."

But the decision is not an easy one. Picking a college can be a source of stress for the average high school student, who doesn't have to worry that he might disappoint a famous college coach or a passionate fan base.

"You want a kid going through this to have a smile on his face," Donohue said, "But sometimes it seems like (Gesicki) is thinking about things."

Until he makes his decision, Gesicki doesn't want to distract from Southern Regional's season. The Rams finished 9-3 and reached the South Jersey Group V final last season, losing to Williamstown 43-20.

"I'm a senior now," Gesicki said. "I'm not a freshman in college. We have unfinished business here."

The Rams will combine veterans like Gesicki with some promising newcomers. After a scrimmage last week against Atlantic City, Gesicki took command of the team huddle and gave his teammates some words of encouragement.

"I played as a sophomore and we had seniors on that (2011) team that led us," Gesicki said. "Now it's crazy to say, but I'm one of the seniors. I've been starting three years here, and I want to be a leader here."

But when the decision is made Donohue said Gesicki will probably not be able to help but feel more relaxed.

"I want him to have fun his senior year in all his sports," Donohue said.

Contact Michael McGarry:


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