Red Bank Regional junior defensive end Garrett Sickels has made a verbal commitment to attend Penn State University and play football under newly appointed head coach Bill O’Brien upon graduation in 2013.
Sickels was ranked number 50 in Rivals.com’s Top 100 high school football players in the 2013 class and was ranked number six among defensive ends.
Sickels made Penn State his choice out of the two-dozen offers he received.
Sickels father, Stanley Sickels, confirmed the reports of his son’s verbal commitment to Penn State to The Two River Times.
“The past few days have been crazy. He talked to us and he talked to the coach Saturday night. He’s very happy with the coaches out there,” the elder Sickels said. “He said ‘Dad, that’s where I want to be’.”
“It came down to the coaches and how they’re continuing the traditions at Penn State that Coach [Joe] Paterno set forth,” Garrett Sickels said. ”It’s a staff that I feel completely open with and a staff I can really see myself playing for.”
As for the two-dozen offers received over the past two years, Sickels said he was humbled by the experience.
“It was really humbling. I always thought if I kept working hard and doing well I’d probably get a Rutgers offer, but I never thought I’d have over 20-something offers.
“And then,” Sickels added, ”When the Rivals ranking came out I was just in disbelief. To be ranked that high sure is an honor. It’s very exciting and humbling.”
Sickels said he was able to make a decision so early in the process because the process, for him, began during his sophomore year when the offers starting coming in. He and his parents hit the road to visit some of the colleges that had expressed interest his sophomore year in high school, whereas other players, including some of his teammates, began receiving offers this past fall.
“I was just kind of ahead in the process,” Sickels said.
As for the recent sexual abuse allegations against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and the criticism befallen Penn State as an institution in its wake, Sickels believes the university as a whole is moving forward.
“I feel the college as a whole is moving on. It’s like losing a game, you have to put it behind you and get ready for next week. It’s something you can’t dwell on. You’ve got to keep moving forward.”
But, before Sickels graces the field for the Nittany Lions, he’s got one more year as a Buccaneer for Red Bank Regional.
After going 4-6 in his sophomore year, Sickels said the relative success the Bucs achieved in 2011 was fun but he wasn’t satisfied with the 5-5 record.
“Yeah, we made the state playoffs, but it didn’t feel like we deserved it,” said Sickels. ”We’re looking forward to being a balanced team next year.”
“I’m looking forward to [next season]. We’re looking forward to getting after it. It’s going to be a very good season for us.”