PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Gesicki, Barkley, Apke Sweep Top 3 SPARQ Scores At NFL Combine

Penn State swept the top three SPARQ scores of the 2018 NFL Combine, as Mike Gesicki, Saquon Barkley, and Troy Apke wowed scouts with their athletic ability last week at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Nike SPARQ Rating has been used to assess the skills and athleticism demanded by sports like football and basketball since 2004. It’s a favorite tool of recruiting events like The Opening, which is held each summer at Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, OR.

According to 3 Sigma Athlete, an advanced analytics blog that tracks combine showings, the three Nittany Lions performed astonishingly well. Zach Whitman, the site’s founder, has only ever identified five players who tested three standard deviations above the NFL’s average SPARQ at a given position: J.J. Watt, Calvin Johnson, Lane Johnson, Evan Mathis, and Byron Jones.

While Gesicki, Barkley, and Apke didn’t make the cut as members of that rare echelon of athletes, they did significantly improve their respective draft stocks.

Barkley’s stellar performance last week in Indianapolis has elevated him from a sure top five pick to being “firmly in the mix” to go No. 1 to the Cleveland Browns.

The last running back to be selected first overall was none other than Penn State great Ki-Jana Carter, who in 1995 was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns took star defensive end Courtney Brown No. 1 in the 2000 draft.

Barkley could soon become the third Penn State player to hear his name called first overall when this year’s draft gets underway Thursday, April 26 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

Barkley’s SPARQ rating of 148.4 was far and away the top score of all the running backs in attendance at the combine. With numbers like a 4.40 40-yard dash, 41-inch vertical leap, and 29 reps on the bench press, Barkley came in just shy of the 99th percentile in terms of positional average among current NFL players.

Mike Mitchell, an Ohio State signee from the 2013 recruiting class, holds the all-time SPARQ record with a score of 154.47. A different Mike Mitchell than the Buckeye-turned-Pittsburgh Steeler safety, Mitchell transferred to Texas Tech and eventually Southeastern.

After claiming MVP honors at the NFLPA Bowl in January, Apke continued his campaign for increased respect from scouts and pundits alike at the combine, where he no doubt blew them away with a 4.34 40-yard dash and 4.03 20-yard shuttle. Both times were unmatched by any other safety in attendance. He posted a SPARQ score of 145.1.

Gesicki, however, outdid all of this year’s combine participants with a 150 flat. A few of his highlights were a 4.54 40-yard dash and a 41.5-inch vertical. Gesicki didn’t finish lower than second among tight ends in any event.

Penn State’s all-time leader in receptions at the position (129) will likely be selected in the top 50 picks come April. His natural ability to high-point the football and make plays in crucial situations is what sets him apart from his peers in this year’s draft class.

Those who doubt Gesicki will improve as a blocker at the next level clearly haven’t seen the extra work he puts in on the sleds after seemingly every practice. If you’re looking for the NFL’s next big star at tight end, Gesicki fits the mold and then some.

About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

Comments

More by Ethan

Four Veterans Who Could Fill Important Roles For Penn State

Mark Allen, Brandon Polk, Jarvis Miller, and Ayron Monroe have the chance to create more opportunities for themselves this season.

Seven More Penn State Freshmen Arrive On Campus

Evan Barratt Invited To World Junior Summer Showcase

Athletics

Penn State Hockey Announces 2018-19 Recruiting Class

Max Sauvé, Oskar Autio, Evan Bell, and Ludvig Larsson all officially signed their letters of intent and will join Penn State this season.

Penn State Hoops’ Mike Watkins Charged With Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia

Cole Miller Misses Cut At U.S. Open

Evan Barratt Invited To World Junior Summer Showcase

Several Penn State Women’s Soccer Players Training In WPSL

Student Life

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting At Beaver Stadium

If alumna Alex Perry hadn’t accidentally gotten into the wrong admissions line before a football game, she might never have met the love of her life.

Virtual Reality: Changing The Game At Penn State

Penn State Cracks The Top Ten In Niche’s 2018 Party School Ranking

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Freshman 101: How To Buy Football Tickets

Tickets go on sale for graduate students on Monday, June 18, followed by seniors on Tuesday, juniors on Wednesday, sophomores on Thursday, and freshmen on Friday.

Penn State Hoops’ Mike Watkins Charged With Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia

The 6-foot-9 forward was in possession of a metal grinder containing marijuana and three .40 caliber rounds.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Penn State, Big Ten Among Nation’s Most Expensive Student Football Tickets

Penn State knows its football tickets are an inelastic good and has its hands at the end of a string.

Send this to a friend