When Lincoln County offensive lineman Trevor Stickler made his college choice, he officially traded in his red, white and blue Patriot jersey for a maroon one. However, he didn’t give up being a Patriot.
The 6-3, 312-pound center, retained the Patriot nickname when he signed his letter of intent with the University of the Cumberlands Patriots last Friday at LCHS.
“Yeah, I’m still a Patriot,” Stickler said with a smile.
Stickler put his signature on the dotted line before a crowd of well-wishers, which included his Lincoln coaches, Patriot teammates, family and new offensive line coach, UC assistant Edgar Weiser.
When his high school career ended last season, Stickler said he knew he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to football. The question was, “Where did he want to play?”
After visiting UC’s Williamsburg campus back in the fall and again in January, Stickler said he knew the answer.
“I really just liked the fit of it,” he said. “It felt like home, and it’s not too far from home – about an hour and 15 minutes. I love the atmosphere. It’s not too big, not too small.”
Stickler, the son of Jeff and Debra Stickler of Crab Orchard, liked Cumberlands. And the Cumberlands’ football staff liked him.
“Trevor’s been a very good offensive lineman here for Coach (Mike) Settles for a couple years. He comes highly recommended, not only as a football player, but a person which is vital to small college football,” said Weiser. “Obviously, he has great size. He’s a center and very aggressive and me, being the offensive line coach, I liked what I saw in him there.”
“He liked what he saw academically and football-wise and we liked what we saw in him and his family,” he added. “We’re happy he chose to come to our university.”
Stickler, who plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy, joins a strong program by signing with Cumberlands and Coach John Bland. The NAIA, Mid-South Conference Patriots have been in the National Football Championship Series the past four years, winning in both the MSC East and MSC West Divisions.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to go to the playoffs the last four years,” Weiser said. “We won the MSC West Division last season and we won the MSC East the three years previous to that.”
The Patriots were 7-4 last season, 5-1 in the conference.
But the possibility of winning championship rings is not what drew Stickler to UC.
“I really enjoy the way the program is turning out the last few years, and winning is an important factor,” he said. “But, really, I just like how the program is run, the classes and everything about the place. That just pulled me in.”
Stickler, who spent the past two seasons as Lincoln’s starting center, hasn’t missed a beat in the weight room since the 2010 season ended. Hoping to improve on his playing opportunities, Stickler has turned his focus to preparing for the move up to the collegiate level.
“They say playing time is earned there, it’s not given. So, of course, I’ve hit the weights hard and I’m working out right now,” said Stickler. “They’ve got me on a plan to get me ready for my freshman year. It’s intense. But it’s college football. It’s going to be intense.”
Weiser says how Stickler fits in at UC is really up to how he does in the preseason.
“Our philosophy is ‘the best players are going to play,’” he said. “We, of course, have projections and kind of forecast this guy might start here, this guy might start there but, really, when we start practice (Aug. 12) until our first game (Sept. 3) that time frame will determine who are our starters, who is going to get to play.”
How Stickler figures into the UC Patriots’ game plan is a big question mark at this time but that doesn’t bother him.
“I’m definitely ready for the challenge and I’m ready to work,” Stickler said.