With all the hype surrounding the commitments of Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman, the addition of defensive end Garrett Sickels may not have garnered enough attention as it deserved. Make no mistake though- the probability of Sickels being overshadowed once he hits the field is extremely unlikely.
In a surprising move at the time, Sickels committed to Penn State nearly a year before National Signing Day. His commitment signaled two very meaningful things- that Penn State was not quite dead in the water as many prognosticated, and that Bill O'Brien and company knew what they were doing in terms of recruiting. It would have been quite easy for Sickels to re-open his recruitment following the NCAA sanctions. After all, he had head coaches of all the current college football powerhouses beating his door down in an attempt to get him to sign along the dotted line. However, Sickels had no interest in becoming anything besides a Nittany Lion.
The Little Silver, NJ native's offer sheet reads like the BCS rankings in late November. Among his offers were Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Ohio State, Nebraska, and South Caroling among many others. Sickels is rated as a four-star prospect by each of the major recruiting services. Rivals ranks him as the number four defensive end in the nation, as well as the number 101 overall player nationally and the fourth-best player to come out of New Jersey. The latter ranking is a high honor considering the incredibly deep pool of talent to come from the Garden State this past season. It's easy to see why Sickels was such a celebrated player after watching him terrorize opposing backfields like a man who refused to be slowed down.
Sickels may be given the choice to try to contribute immediately or take a redshirt season so he will be eligible to play in a bowl game for the final two seasons of his Penn State career. The Nittany Lions return several young and talented defensive ends in 2013, so adding Sickels to the mix would be more of a luxury than a commodity this fall. It's also a possibility that Sickels sees time at outside linebacker, where he could have a shot of working his way in the rotation by the time Penn State takes on Syracuse in August. If he burns the redshirt, expect someone with Sickels' athletic ability to become a special teams ace while learning the ropes.
Welcome aboard, Garrett.
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