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How Penn State will (but can’t) replace Gesicki

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JONATHAN HOLLAND - BARRY REEGER / FOR DKPS

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Fifty-seven receptions. Five hundred sixty-three yards. Nine touchdowns.

That's only the 2017 stat line for Mike Gesicki, the second round pick of the NFL's Dolphins this past April. Penn State has to replace that type of production and a quick glance at the current tight ends on the roster shows it's not going to be easy for James Franklin and company.

Three receptions. 31 yards. One touchdown.

Those are the 2017 statistics of the current tight ends on the roster, of which there are six. If that stat line gives you the warm fuzzies for the 2018 season, it shouldn't. It's just the nature of the beast when a team has to replace a player like Gesicki.

It is nearly impossible to expect one of the six tight ends on the roster to pick up right where Gesicki left off, but 2018 will let us see how far they can go.

Let's check out how the Penn State depth chart will look at tight end as they enter camp Aug. 3, a week from tomorrow:

JONATHAN HOLLAND

Size: 6-4, 252
Class: Redshirt junior

Holland provides offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne with the most experience at the tight end positions appearing in 24 games over the last two seasons. In those 24 games, Holland has amassed 16 yards on three receptions, all coming in 2017.

A two-year letter winner, Holland becomes favorite to win the starting spot out of camp based on his ability to be Mr. Reliable for the Penn State offense.

Holland begins the season on the Mackey Award watch list, which is for the premier tight ends in college football. The redshirt junior also provides a good stop gap as the younger players begin to learn the offense and their roles expand.

Expect Holland to break camp as the starter, but see his playing time split as the season wears on unless he can prove he can handle the workload of the No. 1 tight end.

NICK BOWERS

Size: 6-4, 269
Class: Redshirt junior

Bowers, like Holland, provides experience albeit very minimal at the tight end position. The 6-foot-4 Bowers recorded one reception in 2017, a 15 yard touchdown from quarterback Tommy Stevens.

A Kittanning, Pa. native, Bowers should see his reps increase in 2018 as a result of Gesicki's departure. Whether those reps are in the passing game or the running game is yet to be determined, but if Bowers can prove his worth as a run blocker, he will find himself on the field more often than not, even if it isn't in the capacity of the No. 1 tight end.

When the Nittany Lions break camp, Bowers will most likely begin the season as the No. 2 tight end behind Holland. Bowers will be the one who benefits the most from the redshirt rule as it is sure to mean more playing time should either of the freshmen take a redshirt season in 2018.

ZACK KUNTZ

Size: 6-7, 239
Class: Freshman

Speaking of freshmen, the 6-foot-7 Kuntz has been on campus since January meaning he's not only been in the weight room, but also learning the intricacies of Rahne's offensive system.

Kuntz replicates Gesicki's game the most with both his frame and his ability to catch the ball. Eventually Kuntz will be the guy in the tight end room barring injury or something unforeseen. His ability to use his athleticism will give him an opportunity to see the field often on special teams and work his way into a role on offense by the end of the season.

Should Kuntz have a bad camp or not perform to expectations early in the season, he very well could end up redshirting, giving him another season on campus and in a Penn State uniform. As of now though, expect Kuntz to be the freshman who will see the most time on the field at tight end based on him being on campus since January as well as what he can bring to the table athletically.

PAT FREIERMUTH

Size: 6-5, 260
Class: Freshman

Freiermuth does not have the benefit Kuntz does as far as being on campus since January, but he does give the tight end group depth and youth. The 6-foot-5 Freiermuth will most likely redshirt barring a barrage of injuries to those in front of him on the depth chart.

Redshirting will allow Freiermuth the opportunity to gain experience in the offense as well as advancing his skills both catching and blocking. The coaching staff will assuredly do their due diligence as far as making the decision to redshirt the freshman from Massachusetts, but it would suit him well at this point in his career.

Expect Freiermuth to get some playing time in the first few non-conference games mainly Appalachian State and Kent State and then a decision be made regarding his status moving forward. Should he impress in those early opportunities, then the coaching staff will have a few decisions to make as far as their tight ends are concerned.

JOE ARCANGELO

Size: 6-4, 253
Class: Redshirt junior

Arcangelo is the third and final member of the current tight ends group who has game experience for the Nittany Lions. He came to Penn State after starting his collegiate career at Bucknell and sat out the 2016 season as a result of his transfer.

Arcangelo made his lone appearance against Georgia State in 2017 and could very well see his playing time on special teams increase in 2018 with a strong showing in camp. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Arcangelo will not be lighting up the stat sheets during his career for Penn State, but a role player who makes his bread and butter on special teams is not out of the realm of possibility.

It will take a barrage of devastating injuries for Arcangelo to see a meaningful role in the offense in 2018, but expect special teams to be his niche moving forward.

DANNY DALTON

Size: 6-4, 251
Class: Redshirt sophomore

Dalton took a redshirt season in 2016, his first in Happy Valley. With the aforementioned Holland and even Kuntz, it's going to be difficult for the redshirt sophomore to break the tight end rotation when camp breaks.

Where Dalton's presence will most likely be felt will be on the scout team side of the football as well as on special teams. Like Arcangelo, it will take a barrage of injuries for him to crack the rotation, but making a difference on scout team and special teams will be how he gets into the game.

Dalton does provide depth for the tight ends, who with only six on the current roster could see playing time albeit very sparingly in blow outs. His playing time on offense will be dictated by who if any of the freshmen redshirt or if there are any injuries ahead of him.

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