DSU standout wide receiver Noah Sickler heading to National Scouting Combine

Feb. 5—DICKINSON — After being recognized as the North Star Athletic Association's offensive most valuable player at the end of Dickinson State University's excellent 10-2, 2023 season, senior wide receiver Noah Sickler could have considered his career over. But the 6'2" standout pass-catcher — who led the team with 892 yards receiving while pulling in 10 touchdowns — is now headed to the National Scouting Combine from Feb. 18-19 in Indianapolis, where the Dickinson native will get a chance to show what he can do in front of a much-larger audience.

"It's an opportunity where they basically do the same things as the NFL combine, with all the same testing — 40 times and vertical leap and all that — and there will be a bunch of scouts at these events," Sickler said. "And I talked to the Coach (Pete) Stanton about talking to the University of North Dakota — the school where I transferred from — about participating in their UND pro day in March."

Many of the scouts on hand are from the newly merged United Football League — a combination of the XFL and USFL — and European scouts for overseas teams. He also is interested in participating in the Canadian Football League's tryouts in Dallas on April 6.

Sickler participated in the Dream Bowl from Jan. 18-21 in Little Elm, Texas and scouts from the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens approached him during the event and requested his contact information. He was invited to two combines, one in Rochester, NY that will be on April 5-6 and the Indianapolis event in a couple of weeks.

"I'm trying to do as many of these events that I'm able to do to try and get my name out there," Sickler said. "I'm not sure what the road looks like for me ... and I'm trying to just work out and stay in shape and do as many of these combines or tryouts that I can and get my name out there."

Sickler's superlatives are abundant, as he hauled in 15.1 yards-per-catch in 2023. But his career statistics also shine, as he has piled up 1,804 career yards, 112 receptions, 19 TDs and an average of 16.1 YPC. Having graduated from Dickinson Trinity in 2018, he also was a star wide receiver while he was a Titan, but he didn't start out at the position.

He played under current head coach John Odermann and his twin brother, Jacob, and originally was a running back when he was a freshman. But he hit a growth-spurt and the Odermanns convinced him to switch to wideout.

"I was against the decision, and I actually was going to not go out for my sophomore year because it looked like I wasn't going to be playing the position I wanted and I was kind of a basketball guy at that point," Sickler said. "But they convinced me to switch to receiver and give it a shot and see how I liked it, and I ended up starting varsity as a sophomore and my first game ever — against Killdeer — I had 3 touchdowns and I will forever remember that game; it was one of the most-fun times I ever had playing football and from then on I've loved playing as a receiver."

He said the Odermanns also were instrumental in his development by encouraging him to get involved with offseason camps and build his skills. But for now, he is going to keep his head on a different kind of swivel and look for a place where he can continue to play the game.

"I think it's pretty unlikely that an NFL team picks me up, but maybe I can get onto a practice squad ... we'll see," Sickler said. "One thing that I learned at the Dream Bowl game from a buddy I met up there was about the UFL: What they require from you and it seems like the UFL is a three-month commitment and there's not much of an offseason because the guys go back home and work at their jobs."

UFL and CFL contracts hover somewhere in the range of $80,000-100,000 per year, but it also offers an opportunity to stay close to the game and continue with a career as a professional, which would be an appetizing prospect for any young athlete.

"That's not anything, compared to the NFL, but if somebody is giving me somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000 to play football I would be fine with that," Sickler said. "I think, for a guy like me, I've obviously got a longer path to play professional football and it's going to take some bouncing around and probably working my way from the practice squad and waiting for my opportunity to see if somebody is interested."

The contracts for many of these leagues, Sickler said, also stipulate that players are eligible to be picked up by NFL teams if their interest arises. Sickler will graduate this summer with a degree in exercise science, and he certainly hasn't given up on the game, so he is figuring out in what direction he wants to go.

"In just the two months I've been away from football, I'm still crazy about it; it seems like it's my biggest passion in life," Sickler said. "There's not many things that give you that type of feeling you get when you put the pads on and go out there and play with your friends."

He added, "As long as my body allows me to continue to play it's just my whole life. I've been at this for 13 or 14 years and I'm going to stick with it as long as I can."

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