Nittany Notes: Volleyball, football pick up awards

UNIVERSITY PARK – The Penn State sports teams are quiet this week as they take part in final exams, but accolades continue to roll in for both the football and volleyball squads.

Here’s the latest: Junior running back Saquon Barkley and senior tight end Mike Gesicki each earned All-America honors from the Sporting News on Tuesday. Barkley was selected as the first-team athlete, while Gesicki was the second-team selection at tight end.

Barkley has already collected several honors this season, winning the Paul Hornung Award for college football's most versatile player and dominating the Big Ten major awards, winning 2017 Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, 2017 Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year and 2017 Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year – as well as winning the Chicago Tribune Silver Football for the second-straight year for the conference's best player.

Gesicki is the first Penn State tight end to earn All-America first or second team honors since Kyle Brady was a first-team selection in 1994. In addition to his Sporting News All-America nod, Gesicki was also named second-team All-America by SB Nation and third-team All-America by College Sports Madness.


Penn State standout Haleigh Washington was named the NCAA’s Senior CLASS Award winner for Division I women’s volleyball.

The Senior CLASS Award is given annually to the most outstanding student-athlete in the sport. The award encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities, according to a news release from

Washington is Penn State’s fifth recipient of the award, and the second women’s volleyball player to win the award. Ariel Scott (2013) was the first Nittany Lion volleyball player to win.

“It is an honor to be recognized in this way, and I’m so glad that I can represent Penn State in such a positive light,” Washington told “I think Penn State has made me a complete person. It has cultivated more than just the academic side and the athletic side; it’s helped me grow as a human being. Just knowing how to engage with people one-on-one and how to make someone feel special and important and heard."

Washington also won an honor from the Big Ten, being named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. The Nittany Lions are 33-1 and headed to the NCAA Final Four thanks in large part to Washington, who averaged 1.52 blocks per set. She also led the nation with a .503 hitting percentage.

Washington also gets it done in the classroom. She is a three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors three times.

“Haleigh did not miss much in college that is for sure,” coach Russ Rose told “She has always been on the go. Not a lot of universities are fortunate to have individuals like Haleigh. She did it the right way, and I hope she gets to book end her athletic experience, but also know that she certainly embraced the term ‘student-athlete.”

Penn State senior Simone Lee was also named a first-team Senior CLASS Award All-American.


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