July 24, 2010

Singleton picks five favorites entering season

During the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger's Dandy Dozen photoshoot Wednesday, the scene resembled elementary school recess, players sectioning off in cliques and laughter and heckling making up the majority of the social gathering with 12 of the state's top rising seniors present.

Except it wasn't like recess at all. Instead of the most-popular kids forming the friendships and groups, the two biggest fish avoided picking a side, instead laughing at the laughter and navigating the afternoon without sidekicks.

Seven of the 12 Dandy Dozen players are committed to Ole Miss or Mississippi State, and those dividing lines are a given. Meanwhile, Madison Central's Tobias Singleton and South Panola's Nickalos Brassell, the state's No. 2 and No. 1 players, respectively, according to Rivals.com, haven't yet chosen their college destinations.

And so on Wednesday, Singleton - and to a lesser degree Brassell - stood off to the side and watched the scene without participating.

Singleton, a four-star prospect rated No. 126 nationally by Rivals.com, didn't have to speak to be noticed. His neon-orange uniform and impressive offer list made him easily recognizable. An elite wide receiver, 10 BCS schools are hoping to land him, and Singleton offered up his first top-five at the event.

"The top right now is Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Georgia," Singleton said. "It's about winning, but it's also about how everybody gets along and relates to one another."

"Playing together" has been a theme with the top Mississippi recruits, and Singleton acknowledges the sentiment, however, he's looking at other factors as well. He recognizes it's an individual decision.

"Those committed guys are where they want to be right now," Singleton said. "I'm still stuck in the middle because I don't know. But I want to play with those guys. I'm committing on Signing Day, so hopefully I won't be too late, especially if it's Ole Miss. (Brassell) and I are thinking about going to the same school."

Singleton saying it might be too late is in reference to Ole Miss' recent flurry of commitments. It's also speaking of the number of wideouts Ole Miss plans to take in February. With limited depth at the wide receiver position, one-fifth of the Rebels' signing class could be that spot.

Already a position of need, Ole Miss dismissed rising sophomore Pat Patterson from the team recently.

"I heard about Pat, and he's a good receiver, but that's just another spot open for me or (Brassell)," Singleton said. I look at depth because I don't want to go somewhere and not be able to play because the team is loaded at receiver."

No matter the depth chart, no team will have multiple receivers with Singleton's speed. He ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at Ole Miss in June and a 4.35 40 at Oklahoma State that same month. Madison Central head coach Bobby Hall plans to make sure Singleton touches the ball 20 times per game this season, as the Jaguars look to rebound after losing 19 starters in 2009.

"He's not only a very good receiver, but he's also a great return guy," Hall said. "He had over 900 yards receiving last year and he came out at half time in seven of our 14 games.

"God willing, if he can stay healthy, he'll have really gaudy numbers this year because we'll run the wildcat 12-15 times a game and we have what we call a 'Bias-o-meter', so he has to touch it 20 times minimum."

Hall, one of the premier Mississippi High School coaches of his era, has trouble naming past athletes he coached that have Singleton's ability. The one name he mentions is Vincent Brownlee. Brownlee played under Hall at Amory, Miss., and went to college at Ole Miss, before being drafted in the eighth round by the New York Jets in 1992.

"Vincent, I've always said is the best high school football player I ever coached," Hall said. "They're both very comparable. Tobias may be a little bit taller than Vincent; they both had great speed.

"If (Tobias) stays healthy, I think he'll make a living playing football," Hall said.

Singleton said he plans to major in accounting in case football doesn't work out. However, the accounting comes in handy if it does, also.

"I want to be able to count my own Monday," Singleton quipped.

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