Fifth-year senior Jesse Della Valle should play an important role this fall in the secondary and on special teams. The hard-working and determined safety will be part of an experienced secondary rotation that includes three returning starters and likely will vie with classmate Ryan Keiser for the majority of the snaps at free safety. His efforts during the winter strength and conditioning program helped him add more than 10 pounds to his frame since the start of the 2013 season. The talented, athletic and instinctive Della Valle has played in every contest the past two seasons on defense and special teams. Last season, his second as the team's primary punt returner, he ranked fourth in the Big Ten with an 8.7-yard average on his 18 returns, improving his average by nearly one yard per return from 2012. The former Shaler Area High School standout earned his first two career starts in the secondary last year and made 21 tackles (13 solo), with one fumble recovery and one pass breakup. One of the squad's top students, Della Valle owned a 3.38 cumulative grade-point average after the spring semester and is a potential CoSIDA Academic All-America candidate. Della Valle graduated with a degree in advertising and public relations in May and was an intern with the State College Spikes minor league baseball team in the summer of 2013. A Dean's List honoree, he is among 11 returning Nittany Lions who hail from Western Pennsylvania.
2013 - Senior Season
Playing in every game for the second consecutive season, Della Valle continued in his role as the Nittany Lions' primary punt returner. He was fourth in the Big Ten and 28th nationally in punt return average at 8.7 yards per return, improving his average by nearly one yard per return from 2012. Della Valle earned his first two career starts at safety and made 21 tackles (13 solo), with one fumble recovery and one pass breakup. He had three punt returns for 44 yards in the season-opening win over Syracuse, including a career-long 31-yard return in the third quarter to set up Penn State's second touchdown. He followed with 21 return yards on two punts against Eastern Michigan. Della Valle continued his strong play with one punt return for 15 yards and three tackles against UCF. He returned one punt and made a pair of tackles in the Big Ten-opener at Indiana. Della Valle had three punt returns for 26 yards, including a 12-yard return on his first opportunity in the pulsating four-overtime win over Michigan. Della Valle made his first career start at No. 4 Ohio State and recorded a career-high nine tackles (four solo), which was tied for second on the team. He also started in the victory over Illinois, tallying five tackles (four solo) and one pass breakup. Della Valle returned three punts for 27 yards against Nebraska in the home-finale, including a long of 25 yards to set up the Nittany Lions' first touchdown. He also made two solo tackles and recovered a fumble for a touchback on third-and-goal from the Penn State three-yard line against the Huskers for his first career fumble recovery. Della Valle had two punt returns and the recovery of an onside kick attempt by No. 14 Wisconsin with 5:37 left in the fourth quarter to help seal the big 31-24 win in Madison. Della Valle garnered his second Academic All-Big Ten honor, posting a 3.56 grade-point average during the fall semester for Dean's List recognition. He was an intern with the State College Spikes minor league baseball team during the summer prior to the 2013 season.
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 graduated with a degree in advertising/public relations in May 2014. Born July 13, 1991 in Pittsburgh, Pa.