Tracy Singleton has seen it all: the linebacker's forearm at the line of scrimmage, the double- and triple-teaming, the zone defenses and, finally, the illegal rough stuff. But nothing has prevented the Howard wide receiver from making the big catches.
In last week's 13-9 victory at Virginia State, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Singleton caught eight passes, four of them in key situations, for 102 yards. This season, the former McKinley all-Met has caught 37 passes for 568 yards and he ranks among the top 10 receivers in Division I-AA.
Singleton, who holds the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and school records for career receptions, needs only 11 catches in Howard's four remaining games to break the Division I-AA record of 140 set by Portland State's Joel Sigel in 1977-80. Singleton has 131 catches for 2,677 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Singleton is sure to add to his career figures Saturday when the Bison (3-4) go for their third straight victory, against winless North Carolina A&T (0-5) at RFK Stadium at 1. The loser will finish in the cellar in the MEAC.
Singleton said he should have more catches this season. "I've gotten open all year but, for one reason or another, I haven't gotten the ball. I was very frustrated early in the year because both Sandy (Nichols) and Brian (Sloan) got hurt and I wasn't getting any passes.
"Things have picked up lately since Sandy returned, but our offense isn't totally geared to the passing game. We're a run-oriented team."
"I told Coach (Floyd Keith) I should be in the offense more," Singleton said. "No one we played this year has been able to play me one on one and I've gotten deep a lot. Coach told me other people had to be involved in the offense to make me more effective. Lately, I've been seeing the ball more.
"My touchdown production (three) is way off," Singleton said. "We've had a lot of scoring chances inside teams' 20-yard-line and come away with nothing. I'd love to see the ball close to the goal line."
Keith said the major reason the Bison haven't thrown as much is because Nichols hasn't been completely healthy.
"Sandy's just not coming around," Keith said. "When you lose your top two quarterbacks, it takes something away from your offense. Because of Singleton, we've been able to throw to our tight end and our backs more. Last week, (tight end) Dwayne Jones and (flanker) Kevin Watkins caught their first touchdown passes of the year. There's no question about Singleton's ability. He's good enough to make everyone afraid of him."
The Aggies are the conference's top-ranked pass-defense team, allowing only 81.8 yards passing per game. However, A&T is giving up an average of 231 yards on the ground. Only Howard, allowing 237 yards, is worse.
"We aren't thinking about A&T's record; we just want to play at a high-intensity level and try for our third straight win," Keith said. "A&T has the type of team that can become good in a hurry. We don't want them to get good against us this week. It's our homecoming and anything can happen."
The Howard-North Carolina A&T series stands at 6-6-2 . . . Despite missing some games, Howard's Nichols and Sloan are one-two in the MEAC in total offense . . . Singleton was named conference player of the week for his performance against Virginia State . . . Howard and A&T are either last or next to last in six of the eight MEAC team offensive and defensive categories.