By Travis Downey/The Clarion-Ledger
JACKSON — As recently as last week, Jackson State football coach Rick Comegy didn’t exactly know what he had in Ole Miss transfer Tobias Singleton.
He knew what he hoped to have, sure.
After scouting Singleton exhaustively during Singleton’s junior and senior seasons at Madison Central High School, Comegy felt the two-time Clarion-Ledger Metro Player of the Year could provide an added boost to the Tigers’ offense.
Paired with senior wide receiver Rico Richardson, Singleton could help give the Tigers a one-two punch unlike any it had possessed before.
The question was just how soon?
As it turns out, a lot sooner than he had perhaps originally hoped.
Following an impressive scrimmage last Saturday, Comegy believes the training wheels will be off Singleton in time for Saturday’s season opener at Mississippi State.
“I’m really happy about (his progress),” Comegy said earlier this week. “I’m very surprised.
“I think he’ll return some kicks for us and if he’s having a hot day, his role will be more.”
Singleton transferred to JSU on Aug. 17, just days after walking out on Ole Miss. He’s already taking snaps with the first-team offense as well as getting reps at kickoff and punt returner.
“We’re going to move him around and try to create matchup problems for the defense,” JSU offensive coordinator Derrick McCall recently said. “Put him in a spot to make plays.”
There was concern among the JSU staff that Singleton might not digest the Tigers’ playbook in time for Saturday’s game.
JSU receivers are not only responsible for knowing their route on a given play but also the accompanying check-down routes should the defense line up differently. They’re also expected to know the routes – and possible checks at the line of scrimmage – for every other receiver.
It’s a lot to grasp, but Singleton has proven to be a quick study thus far.
“He runs good routes,” senior quarterback Dedric McDonald said. “Corners are going to have to respect his speed, the safety is going to have to get over the top.
“He’s just another threat over there.”
Comegy said it hasn’t come easy for Singleton, who’s taken every opportunity possible to get better acquainted with the Tigers’ playbook.
“He’s coming over after class, he’s coming over after study hall, he’s trying to catch on as fast as he can because he wants to help this team win,” Comegy said.
During last week’s scrimmage, Singleton turned a simple 5-yard out pattern into a 25-yard gain when he juked a defensive back near the sideline. It’s that home run ability that excites JSU players and coaches alike.
“He’ll bring a lot of things,” Richardson said. “The defense is going to have to respect both sides of the field. I think this year, (defenses) will try to (double team me) but they won’t be able to do it because we have so much speed on the field.”