Athlete of the Week: Lawrence Central defensive end boasts strong athletic skills

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Despite drawing a lot of attention on and off the field, Lawrence Central High School defensive end Joshua Mickens was able to have a special senior season.

“Josh would probably say he didn’t have as good a year, at least statistically, as he did as a junior, but Josh was amazing for us,” Lawrence Central football coach Will Patterson said. “We told him it wouldn’t be the same because people know about you, he wouldn’t surprise anyone. He accepted the challenge and played well. He saw a lot of double- and triple-teams at times. He learned how to adapt to that and still bring impact to the game.

“He did a phenomenal job of adjusting. He battled some injuries in the middle of the season and fought his way through it.”

AA ATHLETE OF THE WEEK 0103 head shot
Mickens

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Mickens was recently named the Indiana Mr. Football position winner for defensive line. He had 74 total tackles, including 20 1/2 tackles for loss, and 6 1/2 sacks. In 2021, he had 78 total tackles, 12 sacks and 23 tackles for loss.

“He’s an extremely tough kid,” Patterson said. “He’s freakishly athletic for his size. It’s going to help him a lot down the road.”

On Dec. 21, Mickens signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for Ohio State University.

Mickens had originally committed to Louisiana State University in July 2022, but decommitted in November.

“It’s been a long process,” Mickens said. “It was a family thing, wanting to be closer to home overall.”

Patterson said Mickens had a love for LSU and its reputation.

“To be able to share this experience with his mother and sister was important to him,” Patterson said. “There are only a couple places around the Midwest that play the same quality of football they do down South. In the interest of having the best of both worlds, he felt Ohio State was the best fit.”

Mickens’ father, Arnold Mickens, died at age 49 after a battle with COVID-19 In January 2022. Arnold was an all-state running back and linebacker at Broad Ripple High School. After transferring from Indiana University to Butler University, he set 18 NCAA Division 1-AA records, including rushing for 2,255 yards in 1994. He appeared in three games for the Indianapolis Colts in 1996.

Mickens was averaging 9.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in the first seven games for Lawrence Central’s basketball team. He averaged 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds last season.

Although Mickens, who has a 3.8 grade point average, could have graduated in December and got a jump start on college football practice, he chose to play one last season of basketball.

“I’ve been with these players throughout my career and it’s something I really enjoy,” Mickens said. “We’re doing pretty well. For the most part, I’m happy we decided to stay. I feel like this will be my last opportunity to play basketball competitively.”

Mickens said basketball was his first love.

“I always played football, but I didn’t take it as seriously at first,” he said. “It was for fun. I like playing physical, so that’s the fun sport.”

Favorite type of music: Rap or hip-hop

Favorite subject: Social studies

Favorite TV show: “American Dad”

College plans: Major in engineering at Ohio State University.

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