UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; November 20, 2017 – Junior running back Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) and senior tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J.) have been selected as finalists for national awards. Barkley is among the finalists for the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award, while Gesicki is a finalist for the Mackey Award. The winners of the honors will be announced at the ESPN Home Depot College Football Award Show in Atlanta on Thursday, December 7.
Gesicki is the first Penn State player to be named a finalist for the Mackey Award, which is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end. The award is named after NFL Hall of Fame member John Mackey, who is considered to be the best to have played the tight end position.
Barkley is the first Penn State player to be a finalist for the Maxwell and Walker Awards since Larry Johnson won both honors in 2002. The Maxwell Award, named in honor of Robert W. “Tiny” Maxwell, has been given to America’s College Player of the Year since 1937. Maxwell’s contributions to the game of football were extensive, including time as a player, a sportswriter and an official. The Penn State is tied for the national lead among all colleges and universities with seven Maxwell Award winners.
The Doak Walker Award was created in 1989 to recognize the nation’s premier running back for his accomplishments on the field, achievement in the classroom and citizenship in the community. It is the only major collegiate football award that requires all candidates to be on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification. The award is presented annually by the SMU Athletic Forum. Penn State’s lone Doak Walker Award winner was Larry Johnson in 2002. Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis were finalists for the award in 1994 and 1997, respectively.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Jr./Jr., Coplay, Pa./Whitehall
- Is the first Penn State player to be a finalist for the Maxwell Award since Larry Johnson won the honor in 2002.
- Is the ninth Nittany Lion to be a finalist for the Maxwell.
- Is the first Penn State player to be a finalist for the Doak Walker Award since Larry Johnson won the award in 2002.
- Is the fourth Nittany Lion to be a finalist for the Walker.
- Was previously named a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award for the nation’s most versatile player.
- Owns Penn State’s all-time rushing touchdown record (39), surpassing Lydell Mitchell’s previous mark of 38 from 1969-71 against Nebraska (11/18/17).
- Is the Penn State career all-purpose yards leader with 5,279 yards.
- Owns nine games with 200-plus all-purpose yards in his career (four in 2016, five in 2017).
- Set the school record with a touchdown scored in 15-straight games, a streak that began at Purdue (10/29/16) and ended at Michigan State (11/4/17).
- Is the only player in Penn State history and just the fourth in Big Ten student-athlete to gain 3,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a career.
- Ranks No. 2 on Penn State’s career rushing list with 3,629 yards, trailing Evan Royster (3,932; 2007-10) for the program record.
- Broke the program record for receptions by a running back with his second catch vs. Nebraska, eclipsing Larry Johnson’s 41 grabs during the 2002 season, and has 46 grabs in 2017.
- Is one of two Penn Staters with multiple 100-point seasons, scoring 114 in 2017 and 132 in 2016, joining Kevin Kelly (2005-08).
- Is tied for the program single season record with two kickoff return touchdowns, equaling the marks of Chuck Peters (1940), Curt Warner (1980) and Derrick Williams (2008).
- Ranks No. 2 on the single season all-purpose yards list with 2,070 yards in 2017, just the second player in program history to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yard mark (Larry Johnson, 2,655; 2002).
- Is one of only three Penn Staters to reach the 1,500-all-purpose yard mark twice in a career.
- Has 19 touchdowns in 2017, which rank tied for No. 6 on the single season charts.
- His 14 rushing touchdowns in 2017 are tied for No. 8 on the single season charts.
- Set the single game all-purpose yards mark with 358 at Iowa (9/23/17), accounting for 211 yards rushing, 94 yards receiving and 53 yards on kickoff return, topping Curt Warner’s previous mark of 341 vs. Syracuse in 1981.
- The all-purpose yardage total vs. Iowa ranks No. 10 all-time in the Big Ten record books and marks the fifth 300-all-purpose yard game in Penn State history and the third by Barkley.
- His 12 receptions vs. Iowa (9/23) are the most in school history by a running back.
- The 12 catches vs. the Hawkeyes are the most by a B1G running back since Stephen Houston (Indiana) had 12 at Purdue (11/24/12).
- Joins Ki-Jana Carter as the only players in Penn State history with multiple 80-yard rushes in program history (81 at Purdue, 2016; 80 vs. Akron, 2017).
- His 85-yard touchdown catch is the third-longest reception in Penn State history and the longest by a Penn State player in Beaver Stadium history.
- Earned Midseason All-America honors from The All-American, Associated Press, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated (RB & all-purpose) and USA Today.
- Six-time Big Ten Player of the Week honoree in 2017 with four Offensive Player of the Week accolades and two Special Team Player of the Week awards.
- Three-time Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll selection.
- Is the 24th FBS player to produce 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a season since 2000.
- Became the first Big Ten player and sixth FBS player since 1996 with a kickoff return for a touchdown and a passing touchdown in the same game when he did both vs. Indiana (9/30).
- Is the first FBS player in the last 20 years with 50 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards, a passing touchdown and kickoff return for a touchdown in a game.
- Is 1-of-4 student-athlete in the FBS with four all-purpose plays of 80 yards or longer in 2017.
- Ranks No. 2 in the FBS and leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (188.2).
Mike Gesicki, TE, Sr./Sr., Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional
- Gesicki is the first Penn State player to be a finalist for the Mackey Award.
- Set the Penn State career receptions record for tight ends with his final catch vs. Pittsburgh (9/9/17), eclipsing Andrew Quarless’ 87 grabs from 2006-09.
- Surpassed Ted Kwalick’s 1,343 yards from 1966-68 for the most receiving yards by a tight end vs. Nebraska (11/18/17) and has 1,384 yards in his career.
- Is No. 10 on the career receptions charts with 118 grabs.
- Sits No. 18 on Penn State’s career receiving yards chart with 1,384 yards.
- Owns 13 career touchdown receptions, moving past Jesse James (11; 2012-14) for the school record for a tight end.
- Joins teammates Saquon Barkley and DaeSean Hamilton as the second RB/WR/TE trio to eclipse 1,000 career receiving yards in Big Ten history (Purdue, 1982-85: WR Steve Griffin, 2,234 yards; RB Rodney Carter, 1,814 yards; TE Marty Scott, 1,247 yards).
- Owns the Penn State single season record for touchdown catches for a tight end with seven in 2017.
- Earned Midseason All-America honors from Sports Illustrated.
- Earned Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week honors on Sept. 12 after catching two touchdown passes vs. Pittsburgh.
- Caught a touchdown pass in five-straight games from Nov. 26, 2016-Sept. 9, 2017, including multiple touchdown grabs in the first two games of 2017.
- Has at least one reception in 25-straight games.
- Of his 46 catches this season, 26 of them have gone for a first down or a touchdown.
- Led the team with a career-high eight catches, totaling a career-high 89 yards at Michigan State.
- Caught four passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns against Nebraska.
The No. 10-ranked Nittany Lions visit Maryland Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network to close out the regular season. The game can also be heard on GoPSUsports.com and the Penn State Sports Network (airtime 2 p.m.).