Please don't judge Tracy Singleton by the company he keeps.

When Singleton, a highly regarded split end for Howard University, isn't catching passes, he's playing with his pet tarantula, (named No. 89), three piranha (Vicious I, II and III) and German Shepherd (Crystal).

In addition, Singleton rarely smiles. His scowl is enough to send people scurrying for cover.

"People tell me I look evil all the time," said Singleton, who, this time, flashes a wide grin. "But I'm not evil at all. My expression doesn't tell how I feel. As for my pets, well . . . I just happen to have a large tarantula, three piranha and a dog."

Singleton also enjoys football, and for good reason. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference offensive player of the year in 1981, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior caught 44 passes for 1,087 yards and three touchdowns. His 24.7 yards-per-catch average was tops among Division I-AA receivers. He has 94 career receptions, nine short of the school mark, and is a likely high-round draft pick.

Singleton believes he can be more effective this season. "I'm bigger, stronger, more experienced, confident and hungry--yes, hungry," he said. "I worked out all summer trying to improve my skills and I believe the extra work will pay off."

Anything approaching 70 catches, 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns would be "a very good season," he said.

"Those are realistic goals. Sandy (Nichols, the quarterback) and I work well together and our offensive line will be much, much better," Singleton said. "This is the first year, I truly believe, we can win the conference championship."

An all-Met out of McKinley High School, Singleton wasn't even recruited by Howard. At the urging of equipment manager Louis Jones, Singleton selected Howard over a dozen other schools, including Maryland. He hasn't regretted the decision.

While an assistant at Colorado, Howard Coach Floyd Keith worked with several receivers who later played in the National Football League, including Dave Logan (Cleveland) and Billy Waddy (Los Angeles). "Tracy has a little of the talent of each of them," Keith said.

"Tracy's a consistent 4.6 (in the 40-yard dash), runs smart routes, jumps well and is your big-play person," he said. "The preseason honors haven't and won't affect Tracy at all. I have a lot of respect for him."

Singleton, one of five children, often has to beg and borrow as many as a dozen tickets to games to accommodate his large family.

"We only get two tickets, so I get tickets from the guys whose families live out of town," he said. "I have a big fan club. My two aunts, Alma Stuart and Nancy Whitehead, are really into football. We were watching game films once and I saw them on the screen, really yelling and cheering. They were having fun. And that's what I'm doing out here, having a good time."