Tight end prospect Mike Gesicki of Manahawkin, N.J., ranks among the most heavily recruited receiving targets in the 2014 class. The 6'6", 235-pound prospect at Southern Regional High School remains uncommitted. He's considering offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Duke, Kansas, Boston College, Miami, Florida State and Syracuse, according to 247Sports.
Gesicki, a multisport star who ranks among southern New Jersey's top basketball forwards and led his high school volleyball team to the 2013 state title, enjoyed a busy summer on the recruiting trail. He spent months journeying to college campuses across the country in an attempt to make an educated decision before national signing day.
The fourth-best national tight end recruit in 247Sports rankings talked to Bleacher Report just days before the start of his senior season. Gesicki explained his collegiate expectations and how soon a commitment could occur.
Bleacher Report: I know you had a whirlwind summer planned when it came to visiting campuses, talking to coaches and attending camp. Give us a summary of how things turned out.
Mike Gesicki: I’ve had a pretty good experience throughout this recruiting process and been blessed to be put in this situation. Throughout the summer I was able to take a lot of visits, meet a lot of different people and just experience some great moments. From going out to Ohio State in June and earning a scholarship there at camp to getting the chance to visit a lot of schools. I visited Yale, Miami, Florida State, Duke, Wisconsin, Rutgers, Penn State… I might even be missing one. I was able to travel the country a little bit and narrow my main school choices down to where I could really see myself going.
B/R: I would imagine you put together a list of pros and cons after each visit, weighing things from an athletic and academic standpoint. What exactly are you looking for in a college experience, both on the football field and in the classroom?
MG: College is one of the biggest decisions that any kid will ever have to make. It’s not just a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision. Where you go to college could dictate what you do with the rest of your life. You can’t just look at it and say ‘I’m going here because it’s the best football school or the best coach.' You really have to look at all the aspects. First off, academics is most important because if football doesn’t work out for me and I can't do what I want to do at the next level, I need to have a great degree so I can go out in the world and compete for a great job. The next thing is the coaches, players and “family” atmosphere. Can I see myself living there for four or five years and fitting in? The final thing I’m looking at is the actual football program. Do I fit in with the offense? How do I like the system? Could I see myself maybe playing there as a freshman? It’s about where I can fit in and make an impact on a college football team.
B/R: Talk about the work you put in this offseason. What’s a key facet of your game that you’ve really tried to focus on?
MG: One thing I need to work on every day is route running and the different concepts. Maybe I’m just running my route to take away another defender. If I’m running a post-corner, I’m trying to get the flat route open for our slot receiver. I need to realize that I can’t get the ball on every play. As much as I would love it, it just can’t happen. Route-running concepts are something I’ve been working on since my sophomore year, when I was more of just an athlete running to a spot and jumping up to catch the football. Now I find myself doing double moves, faking out a corner, attacking a linebacker and acting off of him. It’s my job to either be a decoy for someone else or find myself open and make plays.
B/R: What sets you apart from other top tight end prospects in this 2014 class?
MG: Rather than what everyone else says—whether it’s my athletic ability, or attacking the ball and making plays—I would say my favorite quality is my work ethic. You only have so many seconds and minutes in a day. Why would I waste one when every single day you have the opportunity to be great. That’s how I look at it. That’s how I attack this process. I have a dream that I’m trying to live out and I can’t do that if I’m not working hard every day to achieve it. That kind of work goes unnoticed but everything else doesn’t happen if I’m not putting in the time. My work ethic is what I pride myself on most.
B/R: Football has given you national notoriety but you’re an accomplished basketball and volleyball standout at the high school level. Will you attempt to continue playing multiple sports?
MG: I wouldn’t say basketball is out of the question. Different schools have contacted me about that. I went out to Duke, sat down with Coach K (Hall of Fame Blue Devils basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski) and talked with him for a bit. That was a great experience. I wouldn’t say that basketball is out of the equation (in college).
B/R: Ohio State’s recruiting tactics with you became national news after the clever mail they sent. How have other schools tried to separate themselves during this process?
MG: All these schools have been such great schools to be in contact with and deal with. Whether it’s the coaches, player personnel or whoever is behind all this madness with the mail. I’ve gotten it all. Wisconsin sent a nice poster of me in a white and red Wisconsin jersey with the Big Ten logo on it. I’ve seen me catching a touchdown in Beaver Stadium (Penn State) saying “this could be you.” The Ohio State one with the “missing piece.” I got one from Duke where I’m wearing the blue and black and catching a touchdown there. You open them up, you laugh a little bit and it’s a pretty cool thing. That’s just a small part of this whole process but it has been pretty entertaining to see what comes next with all the mail.
B/R: Have you established a time frame for deciding on a college and announcing a commitment?
MG: The last thing I would want is for this whole recruiting process to be a distraction for our football team. I’m not a freshman in college yet. I’m a senior in high school and we have a lot of unfinished business at Southern Regional. I wouldn’t say (committing) is an afterthought, but it’s not my No. 1 priority right now. I’m trying to get this process out of the way, so hopefully by mid-October I’ll know where I’m going to go. I’ll be able to tell everybody where I’m playing college football and where I’m studying. My last visit is Oct. 12, when I’m going to the Penn State-Michigan game (at Penn State). My two best friends and I are heading up there. When I’m finished up there I’ll have a very good idea of where I’ll be heading.