Penn State defensive backs looking to make a name for themselves; TE Mike Gesicki keeps chugging along
Penn State football is the No. 1 topic in We are… Awake every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across Nittany Lions sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Penn State football, recruiting, basketball and more.
Secondary measuring up
Per Greg Pickel of Pennlive.com, Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith said on a conference call with reporters Thursday that while his guys are playing well, they want something more this season, which continues with a visit by Georgia State on Saturday night:
“They want to make a name for themselves. We hear we’re ‘LBU,’ [i.e. Linebacker U.] and the ‘Wild Dogs’ up front, and these guys want to make a name for themselves. We want to be able to make plays when the play is presented to us.”
Smith also said that cornerback John Reid, who injured a knee in the spring and will miss most, if not all, of the season, is still an integral part of the operation – that he is “active on the sidelines with our signaling for the defensive calls” and “very active in our room helping to perfect our craft with technique, assignments, and field study.”
Come on, baby, do the Locomotion
John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times notes that tight end Mike Gesicki has continued a touchdown celebration that he first introduced last season – and one he has been able to put to use four times already this fall. It involves mimicking a train’s engineer, pulling on a cord to signal that an imaginary locomotive is leaving the station.
“The story behind it is a lot of people were writing myself off going into (last) year, they were writing Penn State off,” Gesicki said, per McGonigal. “So everyone was hopping off the Penn State train; they were hopping off the Mike Gesicki train. And now when I do that, I’m telling everybody that the train has left. It’s gone and it’s too late to hop on now.”
McGonigal writes that Gesicki went from 13 catches (and 5 drops) in 2015 to 48 grabs in 2016, a single-season record for Penn State tight ends.
Surgeon in waiting?
Andrew Rubin of the Daily Collegian profiles Blake Gillikin, who in 2016 became just the third freshman to serve as the Lions’ regular punter since 1946. He also has some impressive long-range goals: He would like to go to medical school, in hopes of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
“You kind of have to be a perfectionist to be a doctor, because you always want to get it right,” Gillikin said, per Rubin. “You always want to make sure that the person heals the right way, gets better. I think that came from how I was raised, being a perfectionist also came from my passion of helping people.”
Certainly Gillikin showed surgical precision last year, averaging 42.8 yards a punt, third in the Big Ten, and killing 7 punts inside opponents’ 10.
Mike Gross of LNP Media Group catches up with former Georgia State coach Bill Curry, who in the school’s inaugural season (2010) took his team to Alabama, where he had previously served as head man. The Panthers lost 63-7, but cashed a big check — though Curry wouldn’t say how big. He believes the experience was not without other benefits, however. “We’re warming up before the game,’’ Curry told Gross, “and players were coming up to me and thanking me. Some of them had tears in their eyes. The looks on their faces …’’
Georgia State president: Game is an opportunity to grow
One of the more notable Georgia State-Penn State links is GSU president Mark Becker, who according to Mark Wogenrich of The (Allentown) Morning Call earned a doctorate in statistics from Penn State in 1985. Becker will return to Happy Valley for the game Saturday, and he too believes the value in this meeting goes beyond the financial. “We were able to make our game at Wisconsin close last year (before losing 23-17),” he told Wogenrich, “and we need to use these opportunities to develop and build our program.”
Lions, Hawks to meet in Allentown
Wogenrich also notes that Penn State’s wrestling team, which has won six of the last seven NCAA championships, will face long-time rival Lehigh in Allentown’s PPL Center on Dec. 3, as opposed to the Mountain Hawks’ on-campus venue, Stabler Arena. The Lions return five individual national champions from a year ago, while the Hawks boast one of their own in Darian Cruz.
Stylish running back
Pennlive.com photojournalist Joe Hermitt tweeted out a stylized photo of running back Saquon Barkley, part of that outlet’s collector series.
— Joe Hermitt (@JoeHermitt) September 14, 2017
Also in the Land of 10
- What the heck does Wisconsin have to do to get respect in the polls?
- Mike Riley: 4 or 5 Nebraska players have caught the same illness that forced the cancellation of a soccer match
- Ohio State target Jackson Carman elaborates on his feud with Kirk Herbstreit, as well as his recruitment
Miss previous editions of the Wakeup Call? They can be found here.