Penn State Football

Garrett Sickels declares for 2017 NFL Draft

Penn State defensive end Garrett Sickels is moving on to the next level.

The redshirt junior is forgoing his final year of eligibility and declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft, he announced on his personal Twitter account Wednesday evening.

Sickels is the No. 8-ranked defensive end for the upcoming draft, according to

“This journey has been an amazing ride from my commitment to Penn State in 2012 to this past Rose Bowl game,” Sickels said in a statement he posted to Twitter. “I have made friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime. I’m so unbelievably proud to call myself a Penn Stater. I take great pride in knowing me and my fellow classmates of the 2013 recruiting class have left Penn State in a much greater place than when we arrived.

“After taking some time to reflect on this season and my career at Penn State, I am going to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. This was not an easy decision by any means but I am excited for the next chapter. I want to thank Coach (Bill) O’Brien for giving me a scholarship to Penn State. Coach (James) Franklin, Coach (Brent) Pry and Coach (Sean) Spencer, thank you for pushing me every day and giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play for the Blue and White. I will forever be a Penn State Nittany Lion.”

Sickels started 24 games in his last two seasons and just wrapped up a career year with 47 tackles, 12.5 stops for loss and six sacks. The New Jersey native earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches, while getting named to the conference’s third-team by the media.

Sickels’ signature performance for the Nittany Lions came in their 24-21 upset of No. 2 Ohio State on Oct. 22. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder was suspended for the first half against the Buckeyes, but came out with his hair on fire in the third and fourth quarters, tallying nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.

Sickels, who completed his Nittany Lion career with 93 tackles, 11 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss, also made an impact off the field, serving as the president/director of operations for Penn State’s Uplifting Athletes chapter.

John McGonigal: 814-231-4630, @jmcgonigal9