Top high school football recruit and Red Bank Regional High School student Garrett Sickels has reaffirmed his commitment to attend Penn State on a football scholarship as part of the 2013 incoming class.
According to Red Bank Regional Athletic Director Del DalPra, Sickels came to the decision following a weekend trip to the school, which has been scandalized following revelations that school officials, including former Nittany Lions Head Coach Joe Paterno, covered up numerous cases of child sex abuse committed by former Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky.
In the wake of the scandal and sanctions from the NCAA, which include barring the team from bowl play for the next four years, several of the team’s top players have jettisoned themselves from the program in favor of attending other willing schools. Players and recruits alike continue to consider other football programs, though Sickels is not one of them.
“I know he went there this past weekend and I know he kind of recommitted to them,” DalPra said Wednesday morning. “I know some of the older class have decided to leave but a lot of the incoming players are staying with it.”
Sickels is entering his senior year with Red Bank Regional. Recognized as one of the country’s top defensive linemen, Sickels, who plays defensive end, committed to Penn State during his junior year, well before the totality of the abuse and cover up was known to the public.
The Red Bank resident, according to a previously published Patch report, received nearly two dozen scholarship offers to play football at a number of renowned universities, including Notre Dame, Stanford and Nebraska. Sickels is the son of Donna and Stanley Sickels, Red Bank’s business administrator.
In his personal Twitter account, Sickels, who can still decommit from Penn State as he has not yet signed an official letter of intent with the school, responded to a fellow Twitter who told him to reconsider his plans.
“(W)ith all do respect, i am not goin anywhere,” he Tweeted late Tuesday night. “Penn state is my home and the place where i belong.”
Attempts to reach Sickels by phone were unsuccessful Wednesday morning.
Sickels has also Tweeted to fellow recruits, likely in a show of mutual support among the incoming 2013 class. Penn State was fined $60 million for its role in the sex abuse scandal, forced to vacate all wins back to 1998, and has had its number of scholarships reduced, though that would not impact Sickels.
If Sickels does sign with Penn State, he will be a senior before he will be eligible to participate in postseason college football play.
Earlier this year Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of sex abuse involved 10 young boys, some of them Sandusky befriended through his own children’s charity. Later, an independent report from Judge Louis Freeh, which consisted of interviews conducted over eight months, found that Penn State officials aided in covering up the scandal in an apparent effort to shield the school and themselves from conflict. Paterno, a storied NCAA coach, who, until the NCAA imposed sanctions was college football’s winningest coach, was complicit in the cover-up, Freeh found.
Paterno died in January at 85.