STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) – Oct. 22 is National Tight Ends Day, which celebrates the football position and those who play it.
The holiday began when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo came up with the holiday, which 49ers tight end George Kittle also played a role in creating. The National Football League designated that the holiday be celebrated the fourth Sunday in October each year.
Penn State has a long history of being a successful program, including at the tight end position. Although many great Nittany Lions played in the position over the years, these are the top seven based on their receiving yards during their tenure with Penn State.
7. Kyle Brady – 940 yards
All-American Tight End Kyle Brady played for Penn State from 1991 to 1994. Brady’s 940 receiving yards came from a total of 76 receptions with an average of 12.4 yards per catch. Brady tallied nine total touchdowns for the Nittany Lions.
The New Cumberland, Pennsylvania native was drafted 9th overall by the New York Jets in the 1995 NFL Draft. Brady stayed with New York until 1999, totaling 949 receiving yards for the Jets and ten touchdowns. In 1999, Brady joined the Jacksonville Jaguars where he remained for eight seasons, tallying 2,500 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Cedar Cliff High School grad wrapped up his NFL career in 2007 with the New England Patriots where he had 70 receiving yards with two touchdowns and got to go to his first Super Bowl.
6. Kyle Carter – 963 yards
Kyle Carter was on the Nittany Lions squad from 2012 to 2015. Carter’s 963 yards came from 84 receptions for Penn State. During his college tenure, Carter totaled four touchdowns.
Carter is well remembered by Nittany Lion fans for scoring the game-tying touchdown pass in the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl to allow Sam Ficken to kick the game-winning extra point.
5. Jesse James – 1005 yards
Jesse James played for Penn State from 2012 to 2014 with 78 receptions and11 touchdowns.
The McKeesport, Pennsylvania native was drafted in 2015 in the fifth round to the Pittsburgh Steelers. James stayed there until 2019 when he went to Detroit. In 2021, he joined Chicago for two seasons. James played two games with the Cleveland Browns before being placed on injured reserves in 2022. In August of this year, James was released from the New Orleans Saints.
During his eight seasons in the NFL James had 1522 receiving yards from 157 receptions with 12 touchdowns.
4. Andrew Quarless – 1146 yards
Andrew Quarless was with Penn State from 2006 until 2009. Quarless had 87 receptions and eight touchdowns for the Nittany Lions.
The Brooklyn, New York native was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers where he spent his entire NFL career. Quarless left the NFL after the 2015 season. During his five seasons with the Packers, Quarless had 940 receiving yards on 89 receptions and six touchdowns.
3. Pat Freiermuth – 1185 yards
Pat Freiermuth played for Penn State from 2018 to 2020 where he had 92 receptions and 16 touchdowns. Freiermuth was named the Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year in 2020 for his performance. That season, Freiermuth had 310 receiving yards on 23 receptions with one touchdown.
Freiermuth was drafted in 2021 in the second round by the Pittsburgh Steelers where he is still active today. So far, Freiermuth has 1282 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns in the NFL.
This season, Freiermuth has started all four games with Pittsburgh. The Newburyport, Massachusetts native has a 61.5% catch rate with 53 receiving yards off eight receptions and two touchdowns.
2. Ted Kwalick – 1343 yards
All-American Tight End Ted Kwalick’s impact in college football continues today with the Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year honoring him. Kwalick played for Penn State from 1966 to 1968, back when Penn State was independent, where he completed 86 receptions with a total of 11 touchdowns.
Kwalick most notably helped guide the Nittany Lions to an 11-0 record and an Orange Bowl victory in 1969.
Kwalick was drafted 7th overall in the 1969 NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers where he played until 1975. Kwalick finished his last three years in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders where he won Super Bowl XI. During his professional career, Kwalick totaled 2570 receiving yards.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native was selected to the Pro Bowl three times in his tenure in consecutive seasons from 1971 to 1973.
1. Mike Gesicki – 1481 yards
The current New England Patriot Mike Gesicki played for the Nittany Lions from 2014 to 2017 where he had 129 receptions with 15 total touchdowns.
Gesicki was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Lakewood, New Jersey native stayed in Miami until joining New England this season.
Gesicki has totaled 2716 receiving yards in his NFL career with 18 touchdowns. This season, Gesicki has ten receptions for 99 yards.