Prep football: Chiawana's Singleton a singular sensation

November 7, 2013 

Gibson Mcgeorge

Chiawana's Deion Singleton (2) makes a catch for a touchdown in front of Richland's Gibson McGeorge (5) Friday Sept. 20, 2013 at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.

PAUL T. ERICKSON — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Chiawana’s Deion Singleton enjoyed a remarkable junior season.

He helped lead Tallahasee’s Godby High to the Florida Class 5A state title. He was named second-team all-state in Florida. He was recruited by Louisiana State University, Kentucky and Tennessee to name a few.

And after moving to Pasco to live with his older brother, Lionel, he decided to top all of that by adding a new position to his skill set.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound superstar had never played wide receiver before this season, though you wouldn’t know it watching him.

“His football IQ is off the charts,” said Steve Davis, the Chiawana wide receivers coach. “He came in never playing receiver, but knows when to settle down in his routes and just made it real easy. He is a kid that just understands what it takes to play receiver.

“We already had a handful of kids coming back that were pretty good, and then you throw in Deion and it makes it really simple for us (coaching wide receivers).”

Singleton put up eye-popping numbers in the regular season in the Mid-Columbia Conference, finishing second in receptions (33), first in receiving yards (748), tied for fifth in touchdowns (5) and third in yards per catch (22.7).

“I hadn’t played receiver in games, but I would practice for just in case,” said Singleton, who runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and has a 34-inch vertical jump. “That was something I always wanted to do. (Chiawana) asked me if I could play, and I said yeah. That was an exciting moment.”

It took him a few weeks to learn the verbiage of Chiawana’s offense, but with a lot of help from his brother — a defensive back for the Tri-Cities Fever — and extra work after practice, Singleton figured it out.

He scored two touchdowns and had seven catches for 159 yards in a Week 3 rout of Richland, and he continued to put up big numbers throughout the season despite a Chiawana offense that also features two running backs with more than 697 yards rushing.

“He is a good athlete,” Chiawana coach Steve Graff said. “He has a good nose for the ball. Once he sees how we do things, he is gotten better and better every week I think.

“He was pretty good to start with, and he has given us another weapon out there that we can utilize on offense.”

He has had four games this season with at least 100 yards receiving.

But all the good numbers on offense, though, aren’t changing what college coaches see in his future — and that is defense.

Singleton played safety for his Florida high school and plays cornerback for Chiawana.

He hopes to make a decision as soon as the season is over, and expects to choose between LSU, Tennessee, Kentucky, Boise State, Washington State and University of Washington.

“That process is me and my brother (talking),” Deion said. “I know I want to stay up here closer to my brother, but if it is better down there I’ll make that decision.”

The Singleton brothers are nearly 10 years apart in age, but they have always been close.

Lionel played college ball at Florida International and has starred with the Fever the last three seasons at defensive back.

“If he came up here, I felt I could be a better influence,” Lionel said. “I figured I could help him out because I play football and help him get his grades right. And he thought that would be the best thing for him.”

Lionel has tried to teach his kid brother everything he knows about footwork, reading the offensive players and proper conditioning.

“I think he does some things better than me, because I taught him young,” Lionel said. “I taught him the drills and things I learned when I was in college and a professional setting. He has better foot work and better awareness (than me).”

When Deion first came up to visit Lionel, the pair went to a Fever practice to work out.

“First couple of plays I did pretty good,” Deion said. “Then they wouldn’t take it easy on me anymore.”

Working with professionals has helped him improve both offensively and defensively, and now he is hoping it pays off with another state title run.

Chiawana has been ranked in the top 10 throughout the season, partly because of its tremendous skill position players. To win a state title, though, the Riverhawks will have an extremely difficult road to travel.

“We just have to stay working as a team and push each other hard,” Singleton said. “We always say, ‘Don’t look back at last game.’ We make mistakes, but we have to move past them.”

Weekly numbers:
Week 1: 3-69
Week 2: 3-117, 1 TD
Week 3: 7-159, 2 TD (and INT TD)
Week 4: 2-31, 1 TD
Week 5: 4-100
Week 6: 2-58, TD
Week 7: 6-81
Week 8: 1-15
Week 9: 5-109

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