How appropriate of a time to inform you all about Garrett Sickels after the defensive end’s monster performance against Ohio State, with 2.5 sacks in the second half alone.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound redshirt junior burst onto the scene this fall, and for good reason. So far in 2016, Sickels has seven games under his belt. He’s been extremely productive on the field, but Franklin noted how Sickels has earned the team’s respect for his attitude off of it. When you look at his stat sheet, you’ll notice that the Red Bank, N.J., native has already racked up 25 tackles (seven for loss) and five sacks. His huge outing led a tremendous Penn State pass-rush that posted six sacks against the Buckeyes.
Sickels arrived on Penn State’s campus alongside former classmate Christian Hackenberg and the rest of the small 16-member Class of 2013. The four-star U.S. Army All-American showcased good size, great hands, and an intimidating motor off the edge. He totaled 194 tackles and 25 sacks throughout his high school career at Red Bank Regional, which prompted attention from a slew of major Division I programs. Sickels held offers from schools such as Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and many others. He would take a redshirt during Bill O’Brien’s but he quickly became a factor on defense over the next two years.
In his first season on the field, the Garden State product played in all 13 of the Nittany Lions’ games, recording 11 total tackles (seven solo) and two sack, while seeing plenty of time on special teams. Last year, Sickels nearly tripled his production in comparison to his redshirt freshman campaign. He accumulated 36 tackles, 5.5 of which went for a loss, and he added another three sacks to his career total.
With record-setting defensive end Carl Nassib getting selected by the Cleveland Browns, Penn State was looking for someone to try and fill a chunk of the production void. They were some pretty big shoes to fill, as Nassib absolutely played out of his mind last year with a college football-best 15.5 sacks and plenty of trophies, but Sickels has answered the call quite nicely this fall.
As mentioned earlier, Sickels has played exceptionally well this season and his otherworldly second half against Ohio State just goes to show the progress he’s made. It was a total head-scratcher though that the starting defensive end wasn’t out there the entire first half, but James Franklin explained why in his postgame press conference.
“Garrett’s been a model citizen for us for three years. We just has a situation where we had a bye week and some guys wanted to get home early for the long weekend. He ended up not going to class.” Franklin went on to praise Sickels for his performance against the Buckeyes, saying, “He came out and played with his hair on fire, and then he’s the first person to grab me at the end of the game, and tells me he loves me.”
In the third quarter alone, No. 90 stepped up right away with seven tackles. “When I had my opportunities, I made the best of them,” Sickels said. He would go on to finish the night with nine stops.
Considering what he’s already accomplished in his Penn State career, the future looks very bright for Garrett Sickels.