Penn State vs. Michigan preview: Wolverines quarterback John O’Korn has roots near State College

Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki struck up a conversation one day with his waitress at one of his favorite diners in the State College area when he found out they had something in common.

“She (Paula O’Korn) was asking me about football,” Gesicki said Wednesday, “and mentioned her son played at Michigan. I asked her which position. She said, ‘Quarterback.’ I put it all together.”

Gesicki and Penn State will square off against John O’Korn and Michigan Saturday night at 7:30 ET at Beaver Stadium, about seven miles from The Naked Egg Cafe in Pine Grove Mills.

Paula O’Korn has worked there for four years serving breakfast and lunch. She and her husband, Gary, raised John in central Pennsylvania before he moved to Florida with his grandparents in the middle of his sophomore year at Huntingdon High School.

John attended Penn State games and summer camps. His favorite players were former Nittany Lions Michael Robinson, Paul Posluszny and Daryll Clark. During one camp, families were allowed to walk through the tunnel in the south end zone.

“I can’t even imagine walking out there on Saturday night in a ‘White Out’ as a player after having been there so many times,” O’Korn told the Michigan athletic department web site.“I walked out of the tunnel (at camp), and my mom just starts weeping.

“I can guarantee she’ll be emotional Saturday night.”

Gesicki didn’t say when he first had breakfast at The Naked Egg, but he did say he’s switched his favorite meal from a California omelet to a breakfast burrito.

“It’s a nice little breakfast spot,” he said. “I always ask for her (Paula O’Korn) when I go there. She’s a great lady. I ask her how John’s doing. She asks me how I’m doing. When her son became the starting quarterback, I congratulated her. I wished him the best.”

The feeling is mutual.

“Mike Gesicki is a great guy,” Paula O’Korn said. “He’s phenomenal, and he’ll be really kind. When he came back from his injury, it made me feel real good.”

RELATED: Michigan’s defense has dominated games heading into Penn State battle

John O’Korn played his final two high school seasons at Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale and began his college career at Houston. He was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in 2013 but lost his job the following season.

He transferred to Michigan and played behind Wilton Speight until Speight suffered an injury last month.

O’Korn’s mother said she knows Saturday night will be emotional for her and her family.

“I know that when I see John enter the field I will lose it,” she said. “I’m just so proud of him.”

Barkley, Gesicki honored

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Hand Him The… Penn State’s Saquon Barkley

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was named to three more midseason All-America teams on Wednesday.

Barkley was recognized by ESPN, Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports. He was honored Tuesday by The Associated Press, The Sporting News, USA Today and The All-American.

RANKINGS: Penn State, Georgia rise; Clemson, Washington drop in new AP Top 25

In addition, Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki was selected to the Sports Illustrated team.

Barkley leads the nation with 217.0 all-purpose yards a game and has scored nine touchdowns.

Gesicki has 22 catches for 176 yards and four touchdowns.

Allen, Cabinda make cut

Penn State safety Marcus Allen and linebacker Jason Cabinda were among 20 quarterfinalists named for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, presented to a defensive player who “makes the biggest impact on their team on and off the field.”

Cabinda leads the Nittany Lions with 40 tackles and has three tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Allen ranks second on the team with 35 tackles and has four tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, a safety and two forced fumbles.

Semifinalists will be announced Nov. 8, and four finalists will be announced Nov. 28. The winner will be announced Dec. 10 in Newport Beach, California.

This article is written by Written Rich Scarcella from Reading Eagle, Pa. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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