|Follow PSU Football:||Follow @PennStateFball|
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four Nittany Lions -- Brandon Bell, Malik Golden, Evan Schwan and Garrett Sickels - have signed a National Football League undrafted free agent contracts. Bell has inked a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, Golden signed with the San Francisco 49ers, Schwan joined the New York Giants, while Sickels is now an Indianapolis Colt. The Nittany Lions now have five players that have been drafted or signed by NFL teams in 2016.
Previously, wide receiver Chris Godwin was selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft Friday night. Godwin went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 84th overall pick in the third round. A total of 344 Nittany Lions have been selected all-time in the NFL Draft, which ranks seventh among Division I institutions, including 36 in the first round. Penn State has had 34 draft picks since 2008.
In the last three years, eight defensive linemen have been drafted or signed free agent contracts (Schwan, Sickels, Carl Nassib, Austin Johnson, Anthony Zettel, Tarow Barney, Deion Barnes, Brad Bars).
Bell had a career year in 2016, despite missing four games due to injury. He had a career-best 88 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 4.0 sacks. He also tied for the team lead with two interceptions and three forced fumbles en route to being named third-team All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports. He was honored as the Bednarik Award Player of the Week and the Big Ten Player of the Week after an 18-tackle performance against then-No. 2 Ohio State. He was one of just four players in FBS to post multiple 18-tackle games in 2016 with 18 stops against the Buckeyes and 18 tackles against Michigan State.
"Brandon is Penn Stater through and through and we are so excited for him to become the next member of Linebacker U to play in the NFL," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "He will be a great addition to the Bengals roster with his leadership, work ethic and football IQ. He has great instincts and feel for the game that made him an indispensable part of our defense. He also found success in the classroom, graduating in December with his degree in telecommunications."
"Brandon Bell is one of the most instinctive players that I have coached," defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Pry said. "He is not going to wow you on the record board, but when it comes to game film, I am not sure that I have coached a better player that recognizes and plays anticipative defense the way that Brandon does. He is a true gamer."
The native of Mays Landing, New Jersey finished his career with 224 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 27.0 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles and four interceptions. Bell also served on the executive committee for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes, helping the chapter raise more than $1.2 million for rare diseases since the inception of Lift for Life in 2003. He graduated in December with his degree in telecommunications.
Golden started 13 games and had a career-high 75 tackles as a senior. He also accounted for 6.0 tackles for loss, an interception and three pass breakups. Golden posted nine games with six or more tackles last season, including a personal-best 11 stops at Michigan. He started his career in the Blue & White as a wide receiver and moved to safety prior to the start of his redshirt freshman season.
"I am excited to see Malik have the chance to continue his football career," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "Malik was an integral part of our defensive backfield. He is a very smart, dependable and conscientious football player, who played his best as a senior and his best football is still ahead of him! He made the most of his time at Penn State in the classroom, earning two degrees in telecommunications and journalism."
"Malik is a young man who loves to compete and will make others better with his leadership," safeties coach Tim Banks said.
The native of Hartford, Connecticut graduated with a degree in telecommunications in December 2015 and added a second degree in journalism in December 2016. He interned at local radio station B94.5 during the summer of 2016.
Schwan made a name for himself on the defensive line in 2016, seeing time in 13 games with 12 starts. He had a career-high 32 tackles on the way to third-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media. He was also selected as the Reid-Robinson Award winner for the outstanding defensive lineman at the team's annual banquet. Schwan tied for the team lead and finished tied for 11th in the Big Ten in sacks with 6.0 (0.46 spg). He also collected 8.5 tackles for loss with two pass breakups, two quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
"We are so happy that Evan has this opportunity," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "He has great potential and will work hard with this chance to continue his career. Evan plays with an unbelievable motor and he continues to improve in almost every area of his game; his best football is ahead of him! He also found success in the classroom, graduating in August with a degree in economics."
"Evan has great speed and power," defensive line coach Sean Spencer said. "He can play the run, as well as the pass."
The native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania finished his career with 63 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. Schwan earned his degree in economics in August 2016. He served on the executive committee for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter, which has raised more than $1.2 million for rare diseases since the first Penn State Lift for Life in 2003.
Sickels claimed second-team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and third-team laurels from the media this season. He was also named to the All-Big Ten third team by Phil Steele and Athlon Sports. Sickels had career highs with 47 tackles, 6.0 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss this season on the way to all-conference honors. He garnered Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week honors following the Ohio State and Indiana games. Sickels was also selected as the team's Most Valuable Defensive Player at the annual Nittany Lion Football Banquet.
In the Ohio State game, Sickels sparked the Nittany Lions with nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, all coming in the second half of the upset win over the No. 2 Buckeyes. Against Indiana, Sickels made three tackles, all behind the line of scrimmage. He also starred against Michigan State, tallying eight tackles, including one tackle for loss.
"We couldn't be happier for Garrett," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "He worked hard to become a complete defensive end and plays with tenacious effort, who is in constant pursuit of the ball. Garrett's work ethic and understanding of the game will make him highly productive for the Colts."
"Garrett has a great first step and timing with his hands," defensive line coach Sean Spencer said. "He has ability to bend and move, which makes him very good in coverage."
Sickels finished his career with 93 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and one pass breakup. He served as the president/director of operations for Penn State's Uplifting Athletes chapter, which has raised more than $1.2 million for rare diseases since the first Penn State Lift for Life in 2003.
The Nittany Lions' home schedule features a trio of non-conference games, including Pitt's first visit to Beaver Stadium since 1999. The Nittany Lions open the season against Akron (Sept. 2) and face Pitt (Sept. 9) and Georgia State (Sept. 16) to close out a three-game homestand to start the year. In Big Ten play, Penn State welcomes Indiana (Sept. 30), Michigan (Oct. 21), Rutgers (Nov. 11 - Homecoming) and Nebraska (Nov. 18) to Happy Valley.
More than 6,500 new season tickets have been sold for the 2017 campaign. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2017 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.