Holding Iowa to less than 50 rushing yards last weekend, the Penn State defense has grown tremendously since the start of the season thanks to guidance from defensive coaches Brent Pry, Tim Banks, and Sean Spencer.
One of the players who has recently garnered attention is redshirt junior Garrett Sickels, number 90, who hails from Red Bank, N.J.
The 6’4”, 260 pound defensive end began catching the eye of fans and opponents alike during the Ohio State game, in which he recorded nine tackles, 3.5 of which were for a loss of 15 yards. He also notched three sacks for 12 yards, two of which were on Ohio State’s final chances to win the game. Needless to say, they were unable to even get a pass off.
Let’s take it back to the beginning for this impressive defensive end.
During his career at Red Bank Regional High School, Sickels was selected as a U.S. All-America as a senior. Throughout his high school career, Sickels recorded 194 tackles, 25 sacks, nine forced fumbles, and eight blocked kicks. He was a four-star recruit by ESPN.com, among other regarded scouting networks, and was the No. 3 overall prep player in New Jersey.
In 2014, as a redshirt freshman, Sickels immediately began making a positive impact, appearing in all 13 games. He made 11 tackles that included three for loss and two sacks. His collegiate debut was at the 2014 Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland, at which the Nittany Lions defeated the University of Central Florida.
Last year, as a sophomore, Sickels started 12 games, missing one due to injury. Recording multiple tackles each game, and was part of the defense that forced a punt on 12 of Illinois’ 15 possessions when the Fighting Illini came to Penn State last year. During the 2015 Ohio State game, Sickels helped keep the team steady and focused with eight tackles, and contributed to the 10.0 tackles for loss made by Penn State that game – the most against Ohio State in 2015.
Finally, Sickels helped contain Michigan to less than 100 rushing yards, and contributed four tackles against the nail biter at the Tax Slayer Bowl last year in which Penn State narrowly lost to Georgia.
This year, Sickels continues to quietly work hard, contributing tackle after tackle and a sack whenever he can get one. Although many in the crowd don’t always know who number 90 is, fans should feel confident that this defensive end will stop at nothing to see his team succeed.