Mike Gesicki was really just standing there.
Dressed in his usual practice uniform, helmet in his hands, Gesicki chatted with Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Then, to his left, a flock of photographers and reporters caught his attention.
All of them, he said, were pointing their cameras and attention toward him.
“I was just standing and I looked over and there was about 20 people who looked at me like this, so I'm like ‘All right, I guess they want to know how I'm doing,’” said Gesicki. “I was doing good.”
Coming off an injury scare in the second quarter of his Nittany Lions’ win against Indiana Sept. 30, one that would prevent him from returning to the field for the second half, Gesicki said he hadn’t necessarily realized the attention that was being paid his ailment.
Refraining from describing specifically the injury, Gesicki acknowledged it was a painful one and caused him immediate concern.
Still, relying on the advice of the Nittany Lion team trainers and doctors, Gesicki found solace in knowing that with the right treatment he’d be able to return to action sooner than he might have initially anticipated.
“In the moment obviously you're overreacting and all that kind of stuff,” said Gesicki. “I wanted to be on the field more than anything, so I'm asking a million questions and all that kind of stuff, but Tim and Wes and all our doctors and trainers calmed me down and explained to me the situation.”
The situation is one Gesicki has not been intimately familiar with during his time as a Nittany Lion.
As a true freshman, Gesicki appeared in each of Penn State’s 13 games, followed it with a sophomore campaign in which he appeared in all but the home finale against Michigan State due to an undisclosed injury, and then returned to start and play in all 14 games for the Nittany Lions last season.
Leaving last year’s dramatic win against Ohio State with what appeared to be an ankle injury, though, Gesicki said he understood the course of action he’d need to take.
“That's the part of playing this position, playing this game. You know you're going to take some hits sometimes,” he said. “Ultimately you want to get up and return every single time. But it is what it is. Last year when I went out in the Ohio State game I did everything that I could to come back and get back in there. Same thing happened last week. But ultimately I understood. I talked to our doctors and they just said take it off and then we'll get back at it next week.”
The time off helped.
Appearing as Penn State’s starter at tight end for the 11 a.m. kick, Gesicki quickly made a contribution, hauling in a 5-yard reception on the Lions’ first possession. He’d later grab another pass in the third quarter, finishing the game with two catches for nine yards, boosting his season total to 22 receptions for 176 yards and four touchdowns.
Expecting the upcoming bye week to provide further healing through plenty of rest, Gesicki said he’s excited to handle the bye week alongside his teammates with a mature, professional approach, then get set to tackle the second half of the regular season schedule.
“The doctors, our training staff is the best in the country. They did everything in their power to get me back on the practice field, to be able to prepare for Northwestern,” he said. “But I do appreciate everyone's concern.”