The Nittany Lions were in need of a reliable and productive option in the punt return game early last season. Jesse Della Valle had caught a few punts at practice and then fielded some punts before the Virginia game. His first career punt return resulted in a nondescript four-yard gain against the Cavaliers. But, the coaching staff liked what they saw and two games later Della Valle had three punt returns for 45 yards, including a team season-long 29-yard effort, in the win over Temple. The 29-yard return brought the ball into Temple territory and set up a first-quarter touchdown in the Nittany Lions' 24-13 win. Della Valle would end the season leading the team and ranking No. 3 in the Big Ten, with a 7.6 average on his 15 punt returns. He also had six kickoff returns for a team-best 25.2-yard average. Another western Pennsylvania prep standout playing a significant role for the Nittany Lions, Della Valle spent spring practice at safety after playing cornerback last season. The talented, athletic and instinctive player will be looking to earn more time in the secondary rotation this fall. Della Valle was named to the Dean's List and attained Academic All-Big Ten honors after compiling a 3.67 grade-point average during the 2012 fall semester. The former all-state honoree at Shaler Area High School owned a 3.37 cumulative GPA entering the summer and is on schedule to graduate next spring. He was an intern with the State College Spikes minor league baseball team this past summer.
2012 (Junior Season)
Della Valle played in all 12 games on defense and special teams, playing a prominent role in the return game. He led the team and was No. 3 in the Big Ten with a 7.6-yard average on 15 punt returns, including a team season-long 29-yard return in the win over Temple. He also had six kickoff returns for a team-best 25.2-yard average, including a 46-yard return to open the second half in the win at Iowa. Della Valle totaled seven tackles on the season. He made his first two career tackles against Ohio in the season-opener and he had one stop at Illinois. He had two kickoff returns for 39 yards in the 34-9 win at Purdue. He returned two kickoffs for 46 yards at Nebraska and had a 16-yard punt return into Northwestern territory to set up a field goal. Della Valle made two tackles and returned two punts 26 yards in the victory over Indiana. He recorded two tackles in the thrilling 24-21 Senior Day overtime win over Wisconsin. He earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the first time.
2011 (Sophomore Season)
Della Valle made his Nittany Lion debut in the win over Indiana State.
2010 (Freshman Season)
Della Valle was a three-year letterman for Coach Neil Gordon at Shaler Area High School. He was selected second-team Class AAAA all-state. He also was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 25. He played in the East-West All-Star game and grabbed two interceptions, returning one 75 yards for a touchdown. He finished his senior year with 1,600 all-purpose yards, with 718 rushing yards, 726 receiving yards and 156 return yards, with 28 touchdowns. On defense, Della Valle recorded 56 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions. He also was a four-year starter on the basketball team.
Full name is Jesse Philip Della Valle. He is the son of Phil and Cindy Della Valle and has an older brother, Nick, and a younger sister, Gina. He enjoys playing sports and spending time with family and friends. Della Valle is majoring in advertising/public relations. Born July 13, 1991 in Pittsburgh, Pa.