After much thoughtful consideration, redshirt junior Garrett Sickels has decided to forgo a potential fifth year at Penn State for an opportunity to play on Sundays in the NFL.
Sickels leaves as a three-year starter, going back to the 2014 season. He took a redshirt season in 2014.
Sickels was one of the leaders of the Penn State defense, and the team’s top defensive lineman. He helped provide valuable leadership for an extremely young defensive line that rapidly improved throughout the course of the season. The New Jersey native had his best season in 2016, contributing 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss, with 46 total tackles. His career totals as a Nittany Lion include 93 tackles, 21.5 for a loss, 11.5 sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
While Penn State would benefit from another season with Sickels at defensive end, there’s no denying Sickels impact during his time in Happy Valley. Sickels verbally committed as one of the top defensive ends in his class, choosing Penn State over the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and just about any other national powerhouse. He committed shortly before the announcement of the NCAA sanctions regarding the Sandusky scandal, and then reconfirmed his commitment to becoming a Nittany Lion despite the prospect of never being able to play in a bowl game on a team that would be severely limited with a lack of scholarships. He chose to stay and fight to help Penn State return to the top, and played a major part in helping the Nittany Lions win a surprise Big Ten Championship in 2016, leading the team to a #5 ranking and a Rose Bowl appearance.
Sickels departure will open the door for redshirt freshman Shareef Miller to become a starter in 2017, with fellow redshirt freshman Torrence Brown taking the place of Evan Schwan on the other end.
Best of luck, Garrett!