Gesicki Ready To Showcase Athleticism At Tight End


New Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains used an interesting analogy when he talked during rookie minicamp about what second-round pick Mike Gesicki could do for the offense in the red zone.

"There's a leading question with what we expect in the red area with Mike," Loggains said, "because he does have the ability to play above the rim. I'm sure you guys have all seen the YouTube dunk video. If that doesn't get you excited about the red area, then something's wrong."

The analogy of playing "above the rim" likely was no accident.

That YouTube video, which Gesicki also posted on his Twitter feed, is a showcase of the eye-opening athleticism that made him the second tight end selected in the 2018 NFL draft.

After watching that video, which ends with Gesicki "swishing" a shot from halfcourt, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize he played a lot of basketball in his time.

Gesicki actually not only played football and basketball in high school in his native New Jersey, he played volleyball as well.

Gesicki was the New Jersey Player of the Year in that sport in 2013. As a basketball player, he left Southern Regional High School as the all-time scoring leader, was named MVP of the East/West Basketball All-Star Game, was champion of the 2014 state dunk contest, and had scholarship offers from a handful of Patriot League schools like Lehigh, Bucknell and Colgate.

Ultimately, Gesicki made the decision to focus on football. It proved to be a wise move.

"Basketball was a sport that I played my entire life and then when I started getting into football in middle school and high school and all that kind of stuff, I started seeing my potential with football and where the game of football could take me," Gesicki said. "Now I'm standing here a tight end for the Miami Dolphins, so it's kind of been a dream come true in that aspect of it. I didn't see my career path taking me to the NBA in basketball."

Gesicki said his decision to focus on football became clearer during his recruiting process, which included an offer from Penn State to play volleyball.

"(I had) schools that I visited for basketball," he said, "and then obviously you take the visits for football and you go to Penn State and you see 110,000 people in the stands and you're like, 'All right, I'm playing football.' "

Gesicki didn't really emerge as a star in college until his junior season. He had 11 and 13 catches his first two seasons, even though he started eight games as a sophomore in 2015.

But he was a big-time factor in the Penn State passing game the last two years, caching 48 passes for 679 yards and five touchdowns in 2016 and following it up with 57 receptions for 563 yards and nine touchdowns last fall.

Gesicki left Penn State as the school's all-time leader among tight ends for catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, but he says he hasn't come close to playing his best football.

"I didn't put all of my effort and energy into football until I got to college," he said. "I was playing football in the fall, I was playing basketball in the wintertime, volleyball in the springtime, and then obviously lifting, running and all of that kind of stuff in between. That's why I say I haven't really scratched the surface of the player that I can become. I've really played tight end now. I played receiver in high school. I've played tight end now for 3 1/2 years at Penn State. There is definitely a lot of steps I can take forward and continue to get better. That's what I'm really excited about."

Gesicki, pronounced GUH-SICK-EE, admittedly has room for improvement as a blocker, but blocking is not why he became a second-round pick.

What set him apart from other tight ends in the 2018 draft was his athleticism and his ability to outjump defenders to make acrobatic catches in tight areas.

"I think my best attribute would by high-pointing the ball, going making contested catches, scoring touchdowns in the red zone, that kind of stuff, and making big plays," Gesicki said. "That's definitely one of the reasons why I was picked where I was. Just some other things I need to work on (is) just the minor details of route running, the minor details of your first step coming out of breaks and all of that kind of stuff. I'm nowhere near to where I need to be, but I'm going to get there, whether it's this year or next year, with these coaches and the time and the effort they put into everybody on this team. It's great.

"I think that especially with the way the game of football is going, I think that athletic tight ends are kind of an important piece to the puzzle, but ultimately you have to be able to do everything. You have to be able to run-block. You have to be able to pass-block. You have to be able to run the deeper routes, the shorter routes, just everything. When you're a tight end, you're involved in every aspect of the game. I can't just go in there and be a big receiver. I've got to be able to go in on running downs and all of that kind of stuff. It is something I would say that label, the athletic tight end, I think it fits me, but I will continue to work to be a complete tight end."

One thing that will help Gesicki is he's already pretty much a complete athlete.