PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Big Things Lie Ahead For Defensive End Garrett Sickels

What Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class lacked in numbers (only 16 signees due to the scholarship restrictions handed down by the NCAA) was more than made up for in top-end leadership at a pivotal time in program history. And while the bunch’s bell-cow was undoubtedly Christian Hackenberg — who could play his last collegiate game on Jan. 2 against Georgia in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl — a classmate from Red Bank, N.J., has two years left in Happy Valley to prove he’s the next great Nittany Lion defensive end.

Redshirt junior-to-be Garrett Sickels spent his first season on campus learning the ropes, as most defensive linemen do, on the practice field. After a standout redshirt campaign running with the scout team, Sickels didn’t waver when Bill O’Brien left for the Houston Texans. Instead, the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder got down to work with his new position coach, high-energy trench guru Sean Spencer.

12195983_10154248480995663_360313281051306601_n
Garrett Sickels (No. 90) wraps up Northwestern quarterback Zack Oliver for a sack.

The countless hours spent watching film and honing his technique alongside veterans Deion Barnes and C.J. Olaniyan paid off, as No. 90 had the chance to get his feet wet in the Big Ten without being rushed into a starting role. When the 2014 chapter closed in Yankee Stadium, Sickels had posted a respectable 11 tackles (seven solo), including three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks on the season, while seeing significant time on special teams.

However, following the graduation of Olaniyan and early departure of Barnes for the NFL, the door swung open for Sickels to make a splash this fall — and that he did. Despite being overshadowed at times by the tremendous play of his linemates Carl Nassib, Austin Johnson, and Anthony Zettel, Sickels showcased more than enough upside to warrant excitement for the future of the “Wild Dogs” next season. Nassib and Zettel will wrap up their Penn State careers in Jacksonville, and Johnson could also be playing his last game in the blue and white given his soaring draft stock and recent induction into the alumni ranks following fall commencement.

Those are six enormous shoes to fill, but thankfully Sickels brings plenty of experience to the table and will consume a large part of the guidance void for his younger teammates. The Garden State native finished 11th on the defense with 31 tackles (12 solo), while adding some disruption to his game. Sickels also bumped other key stats in a positive direction with 4.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, a forced fumble, two recoveries, and a pass broken up and defended.

Garrett Sickels Rutgers 2015
Sickels catches a breather during the Rutgers game.

Although he didn’t make the trip to East Lansing for the Nittany Lions’ regular-season finale due to a minor injury, Sickels was able to rest up and return his focus to the task at hand: improving his handwork and explosiveness each day during the all-important bowl practices. Even if Johnson delivers a late Christmas present by returning for one more year, Spencer will rely heavily on Sickels to set the tone in the meeting room and on the field.

Up-and-comers like rising redshirt sophomore Torrence Brown and redshirt freshmen-to-be Shareef Miller and Kevin Givens will look to Sickels for a helping hand, much like the one he received when he was a mere Wild Pup. Though two (perhaps three) starting spots along the line are up for grabs this spring and summer, one thing is certain: Garrett Sickels has only scratched the surface of his potential.

About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

Comments

More by Ethan

Four-Star Safety Tyler Rudolph Commits To Penn State

Rudolph picked the Nittany Lions over a lengthy offer sheet that also included Clemson, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio State.

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Four-Star Athlete Marquis Wilson Commits To Penn State

Athletics

North Dakota Interested In Playing Against Penn State Hockey In Nashville

North Dakota is working towards an agreement that will see its hockey team play against Penn State in Nashville during the 2020-21 season.

Former Cal Swimmer Says She Emailed Sandy Barbour About Sexual Harassment Claims

Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Student Life

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

State Theatre Recognized As A State College Historic Site

As it approaches the 80th anniversary of its opening, the State Theatre has been recognized as a State College historic site.

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting On A Service Trip

When Abby Wilt went on a service trip to Nassau, Bahamas, she had no idea she’d meet the love of her life.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend