'Great decision': No, Miami Dolphins' Mike Gesicki didn't give up football


Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki caught nine touchdown passes, including this one against Rutgers last season. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

DAVIE — It’s safe to say football is Mike Gesicki’s favorite sport today.

As far as the Dolphins are concerned, it had better be.

Gesicki, a tight end from Penn State, was taken by the Dolphins in the second round of the NFL Draft to finally fill a hole amid recent failures with Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron.

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Growing up, Gesicki was such an outstanding all-around athlete that he used to cringe when people would ask what his favorite sport was. Football? Basketball? Track? Volleyball? He could handle himself in any of ‘em.

“Everybody asks me, ‘What’s your favorite sport?’ ” Gesicki told the Asbury Park Press in 2013. “My answer is, ‘Whatever season it is. That’s what my favorite sport is.’ ”

Gesicki recalled setting county records in the hurdles and high jump, which is significant. He didn’t even like track.

Gesicki’s second-best sport is basketball, meaning he stands to add to the lengthy lineage of NFL tight ends with a basketball background. It includes Jimmy Graham, from the University of Miami, and Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.

“We have really good body control and foot work,” Graham once explained to ESPN about the basketball-tight end pipeline. “When the ball’s in the air, it doesn’t matter where it is, we can adjust to it. And now when you come down, you don’t have to worry about a hardwood floor. You have some nice grass to land on.”

Gesicki caught 57 passes for 563 yards and nine touchdowns last season, so coming down with footballs wasn’t a problem. Blocking was. Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier isn’t overly concerned about that, pointing out that Graham wasn’t an outstanding blocker coming out of UM, either.

At least until now, Gesicki has been able to solve most problems confronting him in sports. Once he took up volleyball, he was good enough to attract attention from Division I coaches in that sport.

“All three of my sports that I play all kind of feed off each other,” Gesicki told the Park Press. “Volleyball helps me with my footwork and jumping ability. Basketball helps me with reaction time and agility and football helps me with toughness and all that kind of stuff.”

Gesicki reportedly could dunk as a middle school student. By Gesicki’s senior year of high school, he was averaging 20.3 points and 12.1 rebounds, leading his team to the state semifinals.

Gesicki broke into football as a seventh-grader, playing quarterback. When he lost the starting job as a high school sophomore, he thought about giving up the sport.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘OK, I’m going to stop playing football and focus on basketball,’ ” he said last year. “That was my thing, anyway. Growing up, I always thought I was going to be Vince Carter. That was my man. I had season tickets to the (New Jersey) Nets. I watched basketball. I played basketball.

“Then my coach (Chuck Donohue Sr.) said, ‘How about trying wide receiver?’ It worked out. It was a great decision.”

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