Penn State football boasts several multi-sport athletes – The Daily Collegian Online
Two-sport athletes are rare today.
Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry made headlines last weekend when he shot consecutive rounds of 74 at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic — The Web.com Tour is the PGA Tour’s equivalent of baseball’s Triple A.
While Curry missed the weekend cut by 11 strokes, he still managed to beat a few full-time tour pros. Much of the golf world was impressed by the performance of someone who has won a world championship in a different sport.
Though he may not have a world championship ring, Penn State linebacker Jan Johnson has a national championship ring as a member of the Nittany Lions’ wrestling team.
While redshirting for the Nittany Lions in 2015-16, Johnson wrestled for the school’s national championship-winning wrestling team in the heavyweight class. Wrestling undersized for a heavyweight, at 216 pounds, Johnson went 1-9 after Penn State’s starter at 285, Nick Nevills, went down with an injury.
It wasn’t the first time Johnson wrestled competitively. He was a four-year letterman wrestler in high school, where he won two Pennsylvania Class AAA State Championships for Governor Mifflin High School.
In fact, Johnson also received varsity letters in track and field and lacrosse, in addition to football and wrestling.
Tight end Mike Gesicki, however, had different thoughts on who was the best multi-sport athlete on the team.
“Am I allowed to answer myself?” Gesicki said. “Probably volleyball. That was my thing [in high school].”
He has an argument.
The six-foot-six Gesicki was a two-time New Jersey state volleyball champion while at Southern Regional High School. He also was named the Newark Star-Ledger’s New Jersey State Volleyball Player of the Year his senior year.
“I think if I stuck with volleyball, I could have been pretty good at that,” Gesicki said.
In addition to eight letters he received in high school for football and volleyball, he also got four more for basketball.
He was the MVP the 2014 New Jersey East/West All-Star Game and graduated as Southern Regional’s all-time leading scorer with 1,867 points.
While Gesicki may have plenty of accolades in the sport, safety Nick Scott said wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton is one of the best basketball players on the team.
“Kind of a sleeper because he doesn’t play that often,” said Scott of Hamilton, who played 3 years of varsity basketball at Mountain View High School in Virginia. “When he does, he’s a pretty good athlete.”
As for Scott’s own prospects in basketball, for which he got one letter in high school, he wasn’t very confident.
“I’m more of a defense guy,” Scott said.
Scott’s fellow defensive back, Grant Haley, also picked up a few letters for basketball, though his No. 2 sport is easily baseball.
Haley had a difficult choice between pursuing baseball or football as numerous MLB scouts watched him during his later high school seasons, he told PennLive in 2015. He said then that he had thoughts of entering the MLB draft after his senior season.
The choice between baseball and football is nothing new.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady famously was drafted by the Montreal Expos. Seahawks passer Russell Wilson was a member of the Colorado Rockies organization while playing football for Wisconsin. And now, former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is attempting to make the majors after a short NFL career.
Tebow is currently in the New York Mets farm system. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders were the rare examples of those who found success in both sports at the professional level.
Haley turned into a power hitter his senior year, he told PennLive, but also had the speed that helped him run back the blocked field goal against Ohio State last season. He also notched two letters in track.
But the Penn State player with the best chance to play in a Web.com tour event like Curry is quarterback Trace McSorley, said linebacker Jason Cabinda.
“I know Trace golfs a lot,” Cabinda said. “I’m not sure as to how high level of a player he is, but I know he plays a lot.”