DE Sickels Recaps Penn State, Rutgers Visits

Red Bank Regional High (Little Silver, N.J.) defensive end Garrett Sickels is one of the top prospects in New Jersey's 2013 class, and during the weekend he visited Penn State and Rutgers. After returning home and digesting what he saw, Sickels spoke to Scout.com about his weekend.

Garrett Sickels plans to enjoy some recruiting down time in the next few weeks, and he could use it after a busy weekend in which he attended Penn State's junior day and the traveled to Rutgers for an unofficial visit.

And while it was tiring and time-consuming, it was a productive and fruitful weekend for the Red Bank Regional High (Little Silver, N.J.) defensive end.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Sickels pulled in a Penn State offer, and spent time meeting Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and his staff, and reacquainting himself with Rutgers coach Kyle Flood and meeting the members of his new staff.

"I had a great time (at Penn State)," Sickels said. "That's an awesome staff he put together, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He kept coach (Ron) Vanderlinden, who really made Penn State into Linebacker U, and he kept coach Larry Johnson. Just the name, Larry Johnson. He's probably one of the best defensive line coaches in college football, and then he got Ted Roof as the defensive coordinator.

"And then you top it off with coach O'Brien. I really enjoy talking to him. He's really like a Jersey guy, a northeast guy. He gives it to you straight forward. He's not going to dance around anything, but also personable."

Sickels said he was "hoping" he would get a Penn State offer because "I thought it would be awesome." He drove to State College, Pa., on Saturday morning and partook in the junior day events.

However, more than seeing the facilities and getting tours of the campus, Sickels was more interested in the people within the football program, and building relationships with the staff.

"The first thing that really caught my eye was the coaching staff," Sickels said. "Those caliber of guys all there, and they're all family guys. There's not one guy that doesn't have a family or doesn't prioritize family. The coaching staff are like the ideal guys, kind of like the Rutgers staff. They're awesome.

"They have the same goals I have. They have an awesome degree from a great university and you can play ball."

Sickels returned from his Penn State visit and the next day headed to Rutgers to further his relationship with the holdovers from the old staff, including Flood, defensive line coach Phil Galiano and defensive coordinator Robb Smith, as well as meet new members of the staff.

"I was great to sit down with coach Flood and see coach Galiano and see coach Smith again, and see coach Tariq (Ahmad), and meet (linebackers coach) Dave Cohen and all the new coaches. That was exciting."

Sickels already knows Flood from his many visits to Rutgers, and also because of Flood's intensity during the Big Man Academy last spring.

"We were doing those 5-on-5s and each person went one time and I was the last person to go up in my group," Sickels said. "It was tied 2-2 and (Flood) was screaming, ‘I'm calling your high school coach if you lose this. This is for all your pride.' He was intense and always had a smile on his face. That's when I first really met coach Flood and bonded with him. It was cool to see him again."

Not in attendance yet was Jim Panagos, who also will coach the defensive line. But Sickels met Panagos during a visit to last year.

"I met him at UCF," Sickels said. "He's a really good coach. He's awesome. …Rutgers is all about building more relationships, and I got a better feel for everything, too."

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