Spring Practice Central
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions held their sixth practice session of the spring season on Monday afternoon. Throughout spring practice, GoPSUsports.com will break down each position on the depth chart. Today, we focus on the tight ends.
The Tight Ends
Players Returning-Newcomers/Lost: 5/4
Who's Back: Nick Bowers (So./Fr.), Danny Dalton (Fr./Fr.), Jonathan Holland (So./Fr.), Mike Gesicki (Jr./Jr.), Tom Pancoast (Sr./Jr.)
Under the direction of coach Ricky Rahne, the Nittany Lion tight end corps is eager to find more opportunities to make plays when the season commences in August. A hard-working, youthful group made big strides in the weight room during the winter. Now, the tight ends are primed to take a significant step forward on the field as the Lions build towards the 2016 season.
Coming off a season that included his first touchdown reception, Mike Gesicki headlines the group of returning tight ends. The New Jersey native has just scratched the surface of what type of impact player he can become in the Penn State offense. Gesicki has appeared in 25 games during his first two seasons on campus and has made 24 receptions for 239 yards since the start of his true freshman campaign.
A standout all-around athlete, Gesicki made big gains in his blocking ability during the 2015 season, and he is poised to be a focal point in the passing game for the Nittany Lions in the fall. The 2014 BTN.com All-Freshman Team honoree notched a 33-yard touchdown reception against Army last fall. With continued progress and consistency, Gesicki will be an impact player for the Lions in 2016.
Junior Tom Pancoast is poised to earn more playing time for the Nittany Lions in the fall. The West Chester, Pa., product made his collegiate debut against Illinois last fall.
A pair of redshirt sophomores will enter the mix for playing time, as well. Nick Bowers and Jonathan Holland were very effective players on the scout team offense during 2015, and the duo is now ready to step into the rotation. Both Bowers and Holland were ranked among the nation's top 25 tight ends in the 2015 recruiting class.
Additionally, true freshman Danny Dalton has joined the unit on the field this spring after graduating from high school early and enrolling in classes at Penn State this spring. Rated as the top overall player in Massachusetts by all four major recruiting outlets - ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247Sports, Dalton brings good size (6-4, 241) and athleticism to the group of tight ends.
Learning the intricacies of the new offense has been the name of the game for the tight ends this spring. Coach Rahne enjoys leading the group because of its work ethic, and he is excited about the unit's role in the offense. The tight ends are asked to do a number of different things for the team to be successful, and it's a unique, yet fun, challenge for the players to be a part of as the spring season wears on.
Quoting Coach Rahne:
"I really like this group. It is a young group, but they are all working really hard. I think one thing about it is we've got guys who can make some plays down the field, but we've got guys who can be really effective blocking in the run game. That gives our offense a great opportunity to put a defense in conflict. I'm excited to watch them the rest of the spring. They had a great winter period and were really locked in. I have enjoyed coaching all of them. Their role in the offense is a really cool deal because they have such a variety of things to do. They are equally involved in the run and in the pass and in pass protection. They've got to kind of know a little bit of everything. I think that is awesome. There is nothing repetitive each day at practice. Every day, they are learning something new and mastering a different skill. I think that makes it fun to play in an offense like this."