UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The countdown to Penn State Football has reached single digits as the Nittany Lions gear up for the 2017 season opener in Beaver Stadium.
Ahead of the 2017 season, check in for one final position-by-position look at who's back and who's new to the Nittany Lion roster.
- Danny Dalton (So./Fr.)
- Jonathan Holland (Jr./So.)
- Mike Gesicki (Sr./Sr.)
- Nick Bowers (Jr./So.)
- Tom Pancoast (RS-Sr./Sr.)
- Joe Arcangelo (So./So., 6-4/252, Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights).
What To Watch For:
Electing to return to the Blue and White for his final season as a Nittany Lion, veteran tight end Mike Gesicki returns in 2017 as the clear leader in the room.
As early as Big Ten Media Days in Chicago, Gesicki noted that although he's come a long way, from once unsure of to get into a three-point stance to a selection on the Preseason Associated Press All-America team, he still has work to do.
Named to an additional four preseason All-America squads, Gesicki is fresh off a standout 2016 season, which included breaking the Penn State single-season record for receptions and yardage by a tight end, along with tying the Nittany Lion single-season record for touchdown catches for a tight end (5).
Even with the success, Gesicki noted that there's still much to do as continues to progress toward becoming a complete tight end. Earlier in preseason camp though, it was Gesicki who also noted that tight ends coach Ricky Rahne's focus on the details in large part, what's driving his improvement.
"Coach Rahne has done an unbelievable job coaching not only myself, but the entire tight end group," Gesicki said. "He's a guy who has focused so much on the little things and technique. I honestly can't say enough about him. In the meeting rooms, we're always joking around, we have a great relationship with him. It's fun to come out here and play for a guy like that."
Just yesterday, it was wide receivers coach Josh Gattis who noted that there's only growing excitement as the days get closer to the opener with so many possibilities in both rooms, naming Gesicki as a prime target, given what each opposing defense presents.
Through the offseason and into spring ball, there was also significant buzz surrounding Jonathan Holland, who added nearly 15 pounds to his frame during the offseason. He capped off a productive spring season with eight catches for 62 yards in annual Blue-White Game. Last year, Holland played in 12 games, seeing time mostly on special teams.
Joining Holland, Rahne also noted in an earlier preseason media session that he was pleased with the progress of a few other returners, naming Nick Bowers and Tom Pancoast.
"Nick Bowers has great size, he can run, he can catch, do those sorts of things and he's a very physical blocker," Rahne said.
Bowers was sidelined last year with an injury after redshirting his true freshman season in 2015.
Pancoast played in all 14 games in 2016, seeing time on special teams. Throughout the offseason both Gesicki and Rahne noted Pancoast's preparation as a unique asset.
"He's really dependable," Rahne said. "You know exactly what you're going to get from Tom all the time. He knows all the plays, he knows all the adjustments, he knows all those sorts of things. He has great hands. He's a really reliable guy there."