Penn State has nabbed its third recruit for the Class of 2013 as BWI's Ryan Snyder tweets that Little Silver, N.J. defensive end Garrett Sickels has committed to the Nittany Lions. He joins quarterback Christian Hackenberg and cornerback Ross Douglas, who chose Penn State on Wednesday.
Both Rivals and 247 Sports rate Sickels a four-star prospect. Rivals ranks him the No. 50 overall prospect nationally while 247 pegs him at No. 169 in the country and No. 8 in the state of New Jersey. His Rivals page reports he had a very deep offer sheet that included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.
Sickels had 76 tackles, including nine for a loss to go along with 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries for Red Bank Regional High School this past season, signaling he has the potential to be a disruptive force on the edge for Penn State.
Perhaps more importantly for the program, however, his commitment appears to be part of a growing trend of top prep players not shying away from Penn State by the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that rocked the program last November. Sickels had this to say about the situation and new head coach Bill O'Brien to Robert Ziegler of the Asbury Park Press last month:
"He doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He’s the type of coach I’d want to play for."
"I wanted to see the new coach and how everyone responded, and they got up and they’re moving forward. They’re not looking back," said Sickels, who has plans to visit Notre Dame and Ohio State in April and hopes to make a decision near the start of the high school season. "It (the scandal) didn’t change my mind on anything. I knew that wasn’t truly what Penn State was."
Encouraging words for fans who've been concerned about the scandal's impact on the staff's ability to lure highly-touted prospects to Happy Valley. It'll be interesting to see if top-rated prospects continue to adopt that mindset when considering O'Brien and Co.
Sickels' verbals gives Penn State three pledges from prospects rated with at least four stars by one of the major publications. That's one more than committed to the entire 2012 class.
Here is Sickels' highlight tape.
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