From Georgia to Happy Valley, Gillikin finds inspiration in family

UNIVERSITY PARK - He owns the highest yards per punt average in history for Penn State. He has a quiet and humble social media presence, and rocks a mullet.  He is Blake Gillikin, and while his punts are big, his GPA is even bigger. His success in blue and white goes all the way back to his family roots.

As a young college recruit in Georgia he left the Peach State in search of something different. He wanted a college town, and when he arrived in State College he addressed people as 'Sir' because that is how is how he was raised.  Now a team captain,  Gillikin found a way to kick it in Happy Valley.

"I think it has been really smooth at Penn State,  in particularly they have people and resources in place for you to be very comfortable coming from far away from home," he says.

Home is where the story begins for Blake.  In a small city in Cobb County just northwest of Atlanta, Smyrna, Georgia.  Gillikin, the son of Taryn and Walt, and twin brother to Northwestern snapper Tyler doesn`t forget that story.

"(They) just spent their time trying to make me and my brother successful," Gillikin says referring to his parents. "That looking back on it, hindsight is always 20-20, you wish you could be more thankful and gracious and stuff like that, but this is how I try to pay them back now. By being the best man on and off the field I could be ."

On the field his accomplishments scatter the Nittany Lion record books. Away from Beaver Stadium he collects backpacks for a cause, has a 4.0 GPA and is one of the most celebrated Lions.

"I don`t like all the attention, really my job is not that flattering, I punt when our offense screws up," he says with smile. "So I don`t really love to play,  I like to get 2-3 kicks in just to keep my legs loose."

Every time Gillikin walks on the field, tight game, big spot, he always has a casually cool persona which has nothing to do with his mullet, but rather a letter from his grandma he reads on the bus before every single Penn State game.

"My grandma was a huge part of my life growing up. She never got the chance to see me play in college. She sent me this (letter) a couple of days before she passed as kind of her last words to me." Gillikin told us at PSU media day. He continued to read the letter.

'You and your love are forever etched in my heart along with your smile on the card and they will be for as long as I live and beyond. I love you so much and will be with you always grams,' the letter says.

"It is really emotional for me whenever I read this I get choked up every single time."

Because for Blake Gillikin he plays the way he does for a reason.

"That (letter) kind of motivates me because  it reminds me that my family is there for me and with me because everything I do is for my family."

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