NFL Dolphins Draftee Mike Gesicki Checks In With Boyhood School

Southern Regional, Penn State Star
May 01, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

In 2008, Mike Gesicki was one of the young Stafford Intermediate School boys sitting through presentations and assemblies inside the Stafford Township Arts Center. On May 1, he wasn’t part of a crowd of 550 but rather the one standing in front of it.

Just four days after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins, Gesicki was the center of attention – the local star athlete now a big-time role model for thousands of Stafford boys and girls.

“I honestly wasn’t expecting them to fill this place just for me,” he said. “It was cool coming out here, and all the kids were excited. It was a cool experience. I’m really happy I came here today. It’s really cool to have that minor impact on these kids, to come out and talk to them. If I can influence to act in a positive way, in even the smallest of ways, then I’m happy to be a part of that.”

During Friday’s second round of the NFL draft, the former Southern Regional High School star athlete and record-setting Penn State tight end was selected 42nd overall by the Dolphins, and soon will be headed to southern Florida to acclimate to what he hopes will be his professional environment for many years.

But on Tuesday, the 6-foot-6, 247-pounder was asked to visit his old stomping grounds and help provide a glimpse into the life of a former student now embarking on a dream career in the NFL. The man opposite him in front of the STAC stage was sixth-grade teacher Clark Hudec, one of Gesicki’s math teachers during his Intermediate School days.

After gym teacher Kathy Redling introduced Gesicki to an explosion of cheers from children and staff alike, Hudec arrived to the scene to have a show-and-tell session with his former student. Hudec showed pictures on the big screen – from Gesicki’s old yearbook photo with his “floppy hair” to his years as a football, basketball and volleyball player at Southern, to his career at Penn State, which included graduating in 3½ years and making the dean’s list. Gesicki gave the stories behind the photos.

Following a short question-and-answer period with the students, Gesicki signed some autographs as school dismissed for the day and children headed for their buses.

“It’s really cool that somebody who used to go to our school was drafted so high,” said sixth-grader Levi Miller, a Philadelphia Eagles fan. “I watched the NFL Combine and know Mike did really great. The best thing about him is that he still did great with his academics while balancing all the things he was doing with football.”

John Schwartz, another Eagles fan, said he had seen Gesicki on TV during several college games this past season.

“It’s cool that he went to my school and now he’s going to play in the NFL,” Schwartz said. “He’s a nice guy, and I think he’s going to do well.”

Certainly, Gesicki believes he can do well in the NFL. At Penn State, he racked up 129 career receptions to go with 1,481 yards and 15 touchdowns – all of which are school records for a tight end.

“For a lot of people, this would be a time to sit back and say I made it,” Gesicki said. “But I didn’t make it anywhere yet. I’m more motivated than ever. I’m more focused than ever. And I’m just excited to get to work in Miami.”

Moments after NFL Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson announced Miami’s selection from inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Friday evening, the Dolphins’ Twitter feed read: “He dominated at Penn State, and now Mike Gesicki is coming to South Florida.”

Joining former Southern Regional Rams Clark Harris, Rich Beverly and Glenn Carson as the only players during the past 12 years to have been drafted or invited to practice squads for NFL teams, Gesicki said the moment Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier called was “surreal.”

“I was in that range where I could have gone late first round or second round, and I didn’t want to sit in the Green Room that long, so I stayed home with the people who matter most in my life,” he said. “I knew Miami was a possibility. I knew they liked me, but I didn’t know how much. When the phone rang and I saw it was Fort Lauderdale, Fla., I got so excited!

“It was a great moment for my family and me. It was a moment I had been dreaming about my entire life.”

In a video posted to the Dolphins’ website over the weekend, Grier had only positive things to say about Gesicki, who joins a tight end crew that includes Marques Gray, A.J. Derby, Thomas Duarte and newly signed Gavin Escobar.

“He’s got a unique skill set,” Grier said. “He’s big. He’s long. He’s fast, and high-points the ball really well. It’s a matchup league, and he’s got a unique skill set that not many people at this position have.”

— David Biggy

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