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October 5, 2012

Army Bowl was a goal for Sickels

MORE: U.S. Army All-American Bowl roster

Four-star defensive end Garrett Sickels of Little Silver (N.J.) Red Bank Regional has long been a fan of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, so when the opportunity arose for him to play in the game he quickly grabbed it.

"I think I first watched the game when I was 11," said Sickels. "Back then I told my mom that I wanted to make sure that I would get a full ride to play football in college and that I would be a high school All-American."

As he continued to work for his two goals over the next few years he began to realize that they might actually become a reality. Last fall he got even closer to achieving his goals.

"I kept working hard and hoping that I would achieve my two goals," said Sickels. "Then I got a packet from the Army either last October or November. I opened it up and it was everything I had hoped for. I called my mom right away and told her, 'Oh my God, I did it!' That night I put my signature on the paper and sent it back in. At that point I knew that one part of my dream was complete."

While he officially confirmed his place in the game almost a year ago, today it became even more of a reality with the presentation of his game jersey.

"I was very excited for it," he said. "I'm definitely looking forward to January."

One reason that he is excited to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is the opportunity to play with his good friend and future teammate, Brendan Mahon, for the first time.

"I'm so excited to play with Brendan," said Sickels. "He's one of my best friends and our families have become really close. It will be great to be down there with him and our families. It will also be the start of us playing together for the next four or five years."

When he is down in Texas in January, Sickels will have a couple of goals in mind.

"Just to have fun and I want to show everyone in my area why I got invited to the game," he said.

In the meantime, Sickels is hoping to finish off his senior season on a good note.

"It has been a frustrating start, but we're hoping everything turns around for the better this weekend," said Sickels. "Personally I'm being double-teamed on every play. I've been executing very well though and I've definitely noticed growth in my game with all of the little things."

Off the field, Sickels has long been committed to Penn State (along with Mahon) and has maintained his commitment to the Nittany Lions through all of the bad press and sanctions.

"I'm 100-percent committed," said Sickels, who was asked about the current Penn State season. "I'm very excited for them. They were learning a new offense so it took a little time, but they're on an upswing now. I'm definitely impressed with the defense and I'm just excited to play for coach (Bill) O'Brien, (Ted) Roof, (Larry) Johnson and (Ron) Vanderlinden. It's an exciting part of my life."

Sickels has already taken a few visits and will return to Happy Valley for the Wisconsin game. He will also take his official visit during the weekend of Dec. 7.

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