Deion Singleton didnt know much about the Pacific Northwest before transferring from Godby High School in Tallahassee, Fla., to Chiawana High School last summer.
After being courted by Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conference schools, the standout defensive back didnt have Washington State on his radar heading into his senior year.
But Singleton, who helped lead the Riverhawks to the Class 4A football state championship in the fall, signed with the Cougars during a letter-of-intent ceremony Wednesday at Chiawana High School.
I went up for a visit (last) weekend and came in expecting to like it. It was real nice, said Singleton, a Class 4A all-state first teamer as a wide receiver and defensive back. What helped my decision was the coaches. Every coach seemed to love me. The players were a great set of players. This just felt right.
I had no clue when I moved up here where Id be going, but this environment felt so great. I couldnt leave it.
Singleton was named the Mid-Columbia Conferences Most Valuable Player after making an instant impact on the gridiron for Chiawana as a two-way starter. Singleton finished second in the MCC with 36 pass receptions and 774 receiving yards. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster was also a ball-hawking safety, intercepting four passes and limiting big plays on defense. Singleton was one of three in-state signings by Cougars coach Mike Leach, who called the 22-person class the best in his three recruiting seasons at Washington State.
The thing that was important to us was to not settle on any of these guys, Leach told the Associated Press. We were inclined to keep the scholarship than settle on a guy.
Leach didnt promise playing time right off the bat, only that hard work would produce rewards. That was one of the most refreshing qualities about dealing with him, according to Singleton.
He told me just do what you do. If you work hard, there will be a spot, Singleton said.
Singleton wasnt the only Riverhawks player to announce his college choice Wednesday. Alex Weber, the MCC defensive player of the year, will attend the University of Pennsylvania to continue his football career.
Weber, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder and three-year starter, said it was the atmosphere and attitude of the Penn coaches that impressed him most.
I just hit it off with the coaching staff. Me and the linebackers coach (Jon Dupont) got along super well. We were like long-lost friends, Weber said. It felt like a family already, which is kind of a big deal being so far away from home.
Weber said his decision caught some people by surprise by forgoing the chance to play at the University of California-Berkeley or at the United States Air Force Academy.
I had an opportunity to go Pacific-12 or Mountain West, playing in the big leagues, but Im looking above that, he said. I dont see myself having a career in the NFL. I see my opportunity over the next 40-50 years.
In fact, Weber already has a leg up on his academic career. Not only did he graduate from Chiawana early, but he is carrying a full load out at Columbia Basin College, including courses in accounting, calculus and economics. He has already been admitted into the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most highly regarded business schools in the world.
The median starting salary coming out of that school is 100 grand with a $30,000 bonus. The numbers are ridiculous, Weber said. You throw in a foreign language, and the opportunities are endless. Ive got to look above playing football.
That doesnt mean he cant have fun finishing out his career on the gridiron, where the Quakers defense will have a familiar feel.
Its kind of a funny thing. Its a lot like Chiawanas. Theyve got two inside backers, and its more of a run-stopper defense, said Weber, who will play inside linebacker for Penn. I really like that kind of defense. Its kind of meant to be.
More college signings:
Kennewick: Will hold ceremony Thursday, Feb. 6, 10:42 a.m., Lions Den.
Hanford: William Wertz (Seattle University), swimming.
Richland: Andes Archibald (Idaho), soccer.