It’s no secret that the tight end position battle will be a tough one this season, as three intriguing options in Kyle Carter, Adam Breneman and Mike Gesicki battle to fill the vacancy left by standout Jesse James’ exit to the NFL.
Breneman and Gesicki, the two healthy, tow-headed young options at tight end, have made headlines this offseason for their easy, pal-around countenance with each other.
During a physical drill at Thursday’s practice, though, there were no smiles — only clear proof that the two push each other, in this case, quite literally. They sprinted down a row of hit pads, alternating their respective roles between ball carrier and defensive pressure for each quick set.
“It’s kind of a cool thing for us to go through,” said Breneman. “Mike and I, obviously we’re really good friends but whenever the pads go on, we’re trying to be better than each other. That’s kind of what we do.”
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The two look like they possibly came from the same handful of genes — the “big and blonde” pile, to be specific – but they have very different personalities.
For example, Breneman looks up to Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz.
“He has his master’s degree from Stanford,” said Breneman, which is big inspiration for him since he’s currently in the process of applying to graduate business school and hopes to get his MBA from Penn State.
“(Ertz) puts his head down and gets to work,” he said. “He has fun when he can. …If I could be the kind of player he is, I’d be happy.”
And Gesicki loves when he gets compared to New England Patriots’ tight end (and man-child) Rob Gronkowski.
“We are very different people,” said Breneman. “Mike’s the kind of guy who, before a game, he’s completely loose and not nervous at all. For me, I’m nervous and in my cubby listening to music. We’re just completely different personalities.”
At media day last week, their helmets and pads were off and the two remained happy-go-lucky as ever, only disagreeing on which of them is a better dancer, and breaking out into some moves of their own for the waiting cameras around them.
Carter didn’t participate in the dance-off, but it made him laugh nonetheless. He said it’s great with all the competition that the players’ personalities mesh.
“I let them handle that,” he said. “They’re the young guys, I feel like the dad sometimes. I let them do that, but it’s definitely fun having those guys around. … That just brings energy to the room, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Carter, the self-described “dad” of the group, said he watched Breneman mature immensely while recovering from his injury last year.
“Once he got hurt, he understood that life is more than football,” said Carter. “He understands the bigger picture (now), but he still worked his way back to football.”
In turn, Breneman said he really looks up to Carter and sees a great future for him.
“Kyle is an awesome teammate,” said Breneman. “He really cares about me, he cares about Mike, as soon as I got here as a freshman he really helped me out.”
By all accounts, the balance of off-field competition and on-field camaraderie is perfect for those within the position who are expected to make an impact this year.
“At the end of the day, you play a lot of tight ends and you need multiple guys to be successful at the position,” he said. “So there’s definitely room for all of us tight ends to contribute. … And still have fun while we’re doing it.”
Freshman linebacker dismissed
Freshman linebacker Daiquan Kelly has been dismissed from the Penn State football program for “violation of team rules,” the athletic department announced Saturday morning.
Kelly, a 6-foot-2, 194-pound linebacker who had previously flipped from Syracuse to commit to Penn State, is from Newark, N.J., and had arrived on campus less than two months ago with other freshmen players.
The athletic department made no further comment regarding Kelly’s release.
“I love the staff and teammates at Penn State and always will!” Kelly said in a statement on his Twitter page two hours after the news broke. “That is family!!! Right now I am focussed (sic) on getting back in the classroom & onto the football field so I can flip the page to another chapter of my life and continue to pursue my passion and dream of getting a degree and playing football at the collegiate level.”
Kelly is the first Penn State scholarship player both recruited and signed by head coach James Franklin to leave the team, and the third to leave due to “violation of team policy” or discipline reasons since early 2014.
The four-star prospect’s high school coach, Wilbur Valdez, could not be reached for comment.