Chris Hays

Someone will find gem in Bishop Moore's little, lightning-fast scat back Jalen Singleton

It's too bad players are not judged on hard work, determination and fearlessness.

Well, actually, I suppose they are, unless of course they're 5-foot-5 on their tip-toes. Then they are just judged on being 5-foot-5 (* -- or closer to 5-foot-3, depending on who you ask).

"I've coached 18 years and I've never seen a better athlete than Jalen," Bishop Moore football coach Matt Hedrick said Monday about his diminutive slotback/kick returner Jalen Singleton.

In a word, Singleton is amazing. Watch his highlight reel and it's full of moves that leave defenders in his wake, scratching their heads, wondering to themselves, "I thought I had him."

He scoots through piles of bigger, stronger, bulkier blocking and tackling types as if he's a greased pig. But as pigs go, Jalen Singleton is the runt of the litter, a Class of 2010 litter filled with 6-foot, 200-pound running backs who can make a scout's head spin in just trying to determine which one is better than the other.

This litter, however, also makes it easy on the scouts. If you don't get one, there's always another.

"I understand it," says Hedrick. "Like for a linebacker, it's easy to justify signing a 6-3, 225-pound guy who doesn't pan out. But how do you justify a 5-6, 5-7, 190-pound linebacker who doesn't pan out?"

And right now there aren't a lot of recruiters at the NCAA Division-IA level who want to take that chance.

"We're talking about guys whose jobs are on the line," Hedrick said.

Hedrick, however, might put his on the line to vouch for Singleton. He was an every-down player for Hedrick, averaging 20 carries a game, and also played defensive back. He easily led the Orlando area in carries with 183 total totes.

He rushed for more than 2,500 yards over the past two seasons, including 1,166 his senior year. He also had a career-best 248-yard game against South Sumter in his final season.

Singleton knows he's got what it takes, if only he could get that break.

"Sometimes it gets very stressful," Singleton said of the constant talk about his stature. "I know 5-5 is not the ideal height for a football player, but you just have to fight through it.

"People go too much off measurements instead of raw talent."

You have to excuse him if he fudges a bit on his height. He's somewhat of a freak of nature at 5-foot-3, 155 pounds.

It's easy to see that Singleton has all of the tools to run the football. He does everything the big backs do and he's usually the fastest man on the football field. He even ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at one scouting combine.

"Skill-wise, there's no issue with Jalen whatsoever," Hedrick said.

But can he block?

"I have no idea," Hedrick said. "We never asked him to do it. We gave him the ball 25 times a game.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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