Gridiron Gossip: High School Stars Go For Extra Yards In College

Manny Bowen, from Barnegat, is excelling at Penn State. (Photo courtesy Penn State Athletics)

Penn State University again finds itself fielding one of the nation’s top college teams and Mike Gesicki and Manny Bowen are among the reasons for the Nittany Lions’ success.

Mike Gesicki, from Southern Regional, is playing for Penn State. (Photo courtesy Penn State Athletics)

Gesicki, a senior tight end-hybrid out of Southern Regional High School, caught 22 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns through the team’s first six games of the season. His longest reception devoured 35 yards. He averaged 29.3 yards per game.

Bowen, a junior linebacker from Barnegat, made 13 solo tackles and added 29 assists and one pass deflection.

Gesicki, a 6-foot-6, 250-pounder, is projected to be a high choice in the NFL Draft next spring. Named to the Mackey Award Preseason Watch List prior to 2017, he was selected a preseason first-team All-American by the Associated Press, the Sporting News, USA Today and Street & Smith. He earned second-team All-American honors from Sports Illustrated, Athlon Sports and Lindy’s prior to the 2017 campaign.

Gesicki earned Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week honors after catching two touchdown passes in a win over the University of Pittsburgh. He is an advertising and public relations major. He was named Academic All-Big Ten as a junior and sophomore.

Chappelle Russell, from Lakewood, is one of Temple University’s top players. (Photo courtesy Temple University)

Bowen, a 6-foot-1, 226-pounder, is a media studies major. He was named Academic All-Big Ten as a sophomore.

Russell a play wrecker: Former Lakewood player Chapelle Russell, a redshirt freshman linebacker, is one of Temple University’s top players.

Russell, through his first six games of the season, was second on the Owls in total tackles with 41. He was second on the club in solo stops (25) and assists (16).

A teammate is former Lakewood standout Amir Tyler, a freshman defensive back.

Beverette sparkles: Another ex-Lakewood star, senior defensive back Tyrice Beverette, is a top tackler at Stony Brook University.

Through six games, he was third on the Seawolves in total tackles with 38 and first in solo stops (27) while adding 11 assists. He notched 4 1/2 tackles for 20 yards lost, two sacks for 16 yards lost, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.

Monmouth successful: Receiving contributions from local players, the Monmouth University Hawks won five of their first six games.

Mike Basile, from Brick, is a likely NFL draft choice next spring. (Photo courtesy Mark Brown)

Senior safety Mike Basile, a former Brick Memorial player and a likely NFL draft choice next spring, was named the Big South Defensive Player of the Week after helping the Hawks to a 48-36 win over Holy Cross.

Entering the game, the ex-Mustang needed 17 solo tackles to set the Big South record for solo stops. He did just that and added two assisted tackles to finish with a career-high 19 tackles. He also recorded his first multiple sack game, forcing a fumble on the first play of the second quarter and setting up the Hawks’ initial touchdown of the game.

The owner of Monmouth’s career record for total tackles, Basile finished the game fourth in career stops in Big South history with 375.

Basile, through his first six games of the season, led the Hawks in total tackles (68) and solo stops (50). He was second on the team in assists with 18. He made 7 1/2 tackles for 41 yards lost. He registered two sacks for 16 yards lost and added one interception, one pass breakup, one pass deflection, one forced fumble and one blocked kick.

Junior defensive back Tymere Berry (Toms River South) was fourth on the Hawks in total tackles with 24 through five games.

Matt Castronuova, from Jackson, is helping the Monmouth University Hawks to victory. (Photo courtesy Mark Brown)

He made 17 solo stops and added seven assists. He led the team in pass breakups with six and was second in pass deflections with seven. The former Indian blocked one kick.

Senior wide receiver Vinny Grasso (Donovan Catholic) caught 18 passes for 179 yards through six games, averaging 9.9 yards per catch and 29.8 yards per game. One catch was for 23 yards.

The former Griffin rushed for 45 yards and one touchdown on two carries. His longest run was 39 yards.

Junior wide receiver Matt Castronuova (Jackson Memorial) hauled in three passes for 15 yards and returned three kickoffs for 66 yards through six games.

Sophomore defensive lineman Adam Kakar (Toms River North) made two solo stops and added one assist through six games.

Tymere Berry, from Toms River South, notched 24 tackles in 5 games. (Photo courtesy Mark Brown)

Glover productive: Enjoying a solid season at The College of New Jersey is senior running back Khani Glover, the former Jackson Memorial standout.

Glover through his first five games of the season rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 47 carries, averaging 3.2 yards per carry, including a run of 41 yards. He averaged 30 yards per game.

The ex-Jaguar caught five passes for 32 yards, averaging 6.40 yards per catch, including an 11-yarder. He averaged 6.40 yards per catch.

Unleashing terror: Several former high school players are on the McDaniel College roster.

Playing for the Green Terror are sophomore wide receiver Matt Schleifer (Brick), sophomore defensive back Alex Rosario (Donovan Catholic), junior running back Matt Cathey (Brick Memorial), senior defensive back Teddy Golubowski (Donovan), senior linebacker Drew Scott (Brick), freshman linebacker Pete Laquaglia (North), freshman offensive linemen William Sagarese (North) and Chris Renda (North), sophomore offensive lineman John Kozak (Brick), sophomore long snapper Jake Scott (Brick) and sophomore defensive lineman Dan Finelli (Brick).

Schleifer through six games caught seven passes for 161 yards, averaging 26.8 yards per catch. His longest reception devoured 68 yards. He returned 10 kickoffs for 208 yards, averaging 20.8 yards per dash. One return was 28 yards.

He returned 18 punts for 266 yards, averaging 14.8 yards per run back. He sped 71 yards on one return.

Rosario through six outings made 12 tackles and broke up four passes.

Vinny Grasso, from Donovan Catholic, now plays for Monmouth University. (Photo courtesy Jon Lambert)

Cathey was first on the team in rushing yardage through his first six games of 2017 with 562 yards on 121 carries. He averaged 93.7 rushing yards per game and caught three passes for 13 yards.

Drew Scott, through his first six games of the year, was in a two-way tie for first place on the team in total tackles with 39. He led the team in solo tackles with 25 and was second in assists with 14. He broke up one pass.

Finelli also starred through six games, making 16 tackles, including 13 solo stops and adding three assists. He notched two sacks for 10 yards lost and three tackles for 11 yards lost. He broke up three passes.

Cougars on the prowl: At Kean University are senior defensive lineman Marquis Oliver (Lakewood), sophomore wide receiver David Patterson Jr. (Lakewood), sophomore wide receiver Jarvis Leaks (Howell), sophomore defensive back Amani Richardson (Manchester), senior punter Steve Ferlisi (Brick), freshman defensive lineman John Sokolov (Lacey), freshman linebacker Matt Milden (Lacey), senior offensive lineman Joe Bick (Manchester), sophomore offensive lineman Elijah Gill (Lakewood) and junior fullback Liam Christensen (Central Regional).

Oliver, through four games, notched seven solo tackles, two assists and two quarterback hits.

Patterson Jr. through four outings snared 11 passes for 113 yards. One catch was for 45 yards. He averaged 22.6 receiving yards per game, 10.3 yards per catch and made three solo tackles.

Richardson made seven tackles, including six solos, through five games. He blocked two kicks, broke up one pass and deflected one pass.

Ferlisi punted 22 times for a 37 1/2-yard average through six games. His longest punt sailed 49 yards. Eight punts landed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. Three resulted in touchbacks. He notched four fair catches.

Taylor a Demon Deacon: Freshman defensive back Ja’Sir Taylor, a former Brick Green Dragon, made five solo stops through his first three games of the season for Wake Forest University.

He made one solo stop in a 28-14 loss to Clemson University.

Ex-Mariner at Rutgers: Freshman defensive back Parker Day, an ex-North player, is a member of the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights.

Locals at Stonehill College: On the roster are Xavier Young, a junior defensive tackle from Barnegat, and former Howell player Noah Powell, a sophomore defensive end.

Young through five games made nine tackles, including six assisted stops.

Is your favorite athlete missing? Please e-mail Chris Christopher: [email protected] with information.

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Chris Christopher covers sports for Micromedia Publications Inc. with knowledge, pride and passion. His beats are the high school, college, professional, youth and recreational scenes. A three-time New Jersey Press Association award winner for sports writing, Christopher was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame in 2015 for his work in the media. The Lakewood resident enjoys taking walks in Ocean County Park and on the boardwalks in Ocean and Monmouth counties and rooting for the New York Mets.