Little Silver (N.J.) Red Bank Regional defensive end and Penn State commitment Garrett Sickels said on Monday afternoon that his pledge to the Nittany Lions was as strong as ever, despite heavy sanctions awaiting the program over the next few years.
"When the sanctions came out, they were definitely more severe than my friends [in Penn State's Class of 2013] and the staff and I would have thought or would have liked. Of course with that comes adversity, and everyone has to get over it somehow or someway. It was challenging at first, but my faith in the staff and my commitment to the staff could never be broken, I realized," said Sickels.
"All day I didn't really talk to any reporters, didn't really talk to any of my friends, my parents were at work and they said, 'Hey, you know what you have to do, it's your decision.' So I just weighed out the options and thought it out, and I don't want to play for another staff. All my friends, we're the type of kids that say bowl games are bowl games, but there's a great opportunity here that we can really grab, and that's what we all decided to do, we stayed with it. This is our best shot."
"The biggest thing for us was that, with all the rumors, with the media making all the hype, a lot of what we saw was people saying that O'Brien was leaving, the staff was leaving, so that was our biggest fear. We would stay if the staff stayed. We didn't want to be there and have Coach O'Brien leave. In my gut, I knew people would talk, but O'Brien and the staff would be there.
"When we committed, we knew that this wasn't going to be your average little commitment. It wasn't, 'I like this school, I'm going to commit there.' We were ready for this and we were prepared. Some people weren't, and that's their decision, but we're ready to stick this out and this commitment means a lot to us."
The Top247 prospect was contacted by other schools on Monday, but said that he wants to stand by his previous word.
"What it comes down to, I was looking at other options today, wondering what would happen or where I could go. I was thinking, 'What's best for me?' The best place for me is Penn State," he said. "I had options, Big 12, Pac 12 - this is the place for me. This is why I committed in the first place."