MOBILE, Ala. — Penn State sent four players to the Senior Bowl, which by itself is a sign of a healthy college football program. But how those players have fared against top competition illustrates how the Nittany Lions have re-emerged as one of the nation’s top programs.
At the top of the list is wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton, the breakout star of the Senior Bowl who’s appeared on virtually every list of top performers at North team practices each day. But he’s also been joined in praiseworthy performances from his three Nittany Lions teammates ― tight end Mike Gesicki, safety Marcus Allen and cornerback Christian Campbell.
All-Pro Stock Ups after #SeniorBowl practices:#BoiseSt WR Cedrick Wilson#PennState S Marcus Allen#WeberSt CB Taron Johnson#Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta#NCAT Brandon Parker#Utah Kylie Fitts #PennState DaeSean Hamilton #PennState Christian Campbell#BostonCollege Isaac Yiadom
— Connor (@connorx147) January 26, 2018
Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki stood out today in Day 2 at the #SeniorBowl, but that's no surprise.
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 25, 2018
Should all this success be a surprise? Not so much, according to Hamilton.
“We have playoff-caliber talent,” he said. “We came just short of the playoff but all the guys that are here have been able to perform well and showcase their talent and all the things they’ve been doing all season. It really just comes from great coaching and great talent at Penn State, and we were able to bring that out to Alabama this week.”
In addition to Hamilton’s universal praise, Gesicki said he’s also gotten a lot of positive feedback on his performances. He acknowledged that his blocking had been a weakness during his college career but he said he believes he’s improved it. His ability to go up and win 50-50 balls never needed much work, but Gesicki showed off that skill repeatedly in Senior Bowl practices.
“I think I’ve done really well,” he said. “One of the biggest question marks for me coming in from an outsider’s perspective was my ability to block, and I think I’ve blocked very well. I’ve been able to show my want to and my desire to block. I’m sticking my head in there and doing what I can. And then everybody knew I was going to come out here and make plays in the passing game, defeat man coverage and go up and high point balls. I’m happy with my performance.”
Gesicki attributed his success and that of his peers to the overall culture of the program under coach James Franklin.
“I think it’s a tribute to Penn State and the kind of culture we have in State College,” he said. “It’s the culture that Coach Franklin has carried on. We’re hard-working guys with great work ethics, and we’re extremely talented. But we’re not just going to rely on our talent. We’re going to work hard and do everything in our power to maximize our potential.”