May 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Correction appended: May 9, 2012.
Garrett Sickels had no problems with Penn State's hiring of Bill O'Brien, to say the least.
A member of Coach O’Brien’s 2013 recruiting class, the four-star rated defensive end said there is no extra motivation to beat Ohio State in the coming seasons because the school's head coach, Urban Meyer, chose Ohio State over Penn State -- but he's confident in O'Brien.
“We have O’Brien, and I would take O’Brien over Urban Meyer, and you can quote me on it,” Sickels said during a phone interview. “Urban Meyer is a great coach, but I just believe in Coach O’Brien. He’s gonna be my head coach, so I may be a little biased, but I strongly believe in Bill O’Brien. He’s gonna get the job done.”
That’s a vote of confidence that many Penn State fans were ready to give to Meyer in the early stages of Penn State’s 2011 season. Campus was alive with rumors that Meyer would be Joe Paterno’s successor as head coach, as he apparently had the endorsement of Paterno.
Of course, things would change in November, and O’Brien was chosen for that role after Meyer signed on with the Buckeyes on Nov. 28.
That didn’t sway Sickels. His mother, Donna, though not specifically speaking about the Ohio State rivalry, said he's always been one to root for the underdog.
One fellow recruit, Alex Anzalone, committed to Ohio State but has since decommitted from Meyer’s program. Sickels said he respected Anzalone’s decision and praised his athletic skills – but he said he thinks Anzalone could make an impact at Penn State to “build another great defense” and “really restore the roar.”
“I was like, ‘Dude, be my linebacker! Come on man, we can do great things at Penn State,’ ”Sickels said. “ …He was like, ‘I don’t know yet man, I’m just gonna wait.' ”
Sickels became the third commit to O’Brien on March 4. He defended Penn State when the scandal unfolded in November, even though Penn State wasn’t high on his list at the time.
“I mean, Anzalone, I respect him because in the recruiting process, everyone has their own opinion," Sickels said. "[...] It’s Ohio State, it’s a rivalry. Just being there for the time you’re at Penn State, you really realize that Urban Meyer is a great coach but also how much people don’t like him. I’m gonna go out every week and perform my best for Penn State.
“But Ohio State week is gonna be something else.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated information about Sickels’ views on Ohio State. In an interview, Sickels conveyed respect for Ohio State, Urban Meyer and the school’s recruits. A previous version of this article was also unclear on the context of comments made by Sickels' mother. The Daily Collegian apologizes for these errors. The article above reflects the correct information.