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August 26, 2010MADISON, Miss. -- Tobias Singleton loves his momma.
He wants to hear her opinions and hopes she's happy with whatever college decision he chooses to make. He loves his older brother - who is a student at Ole Miss - and enjoys spending time with him. He loves his daddy, also.
They are important people in his life, as expected, and he grinned and laughed when talking about them before Madison Central's practice Tuesday.
But there is a caveat, and Singleton stops smiling for the sentence that places things in perspective. None of the aforementioned relatives are going to be catching footballs on a college camps next season. They won't be studying film, fighting for playing time or picking whether Singleton takes English composition at 8 a.m. or 10 a.m.
It's Singleton's college experience, and it's his college decision. Make no mistake, Singleton is his own man.
"I'm still going to make the right decision for me," Singleton said. "I'm not going for my mom, my brother or my daddy. We talked about it, and (Mom) likes what I'm doing and how I'm going about it. It's my call."
Singleton has seven Southeastern Conference offers and others from perennial powers across the nation - including UCLA, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Rivals.com four star and top 130 national prospect can pretty much pick his school, and he understands that enviable position.
Being desired by so many schools also carries a responsibility for Singleton. According to the wide receiver, all offers must get a thorough look or he is committing an injustice. All options will be explored, and he'll keep looking at schools until everything clicks.
Madison Central has long been a pipeline for Ole Miss, and the Rebels signed both Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett from the program this past February. Singleton is close to both, traveling to Ole Miss' Cotton Bowl win in January with the pair.
Understandably, Singleton has been seen in the past as a heavy Ole Miss lean due to the relationships around him. And while Singleton likes Ole Miss and has the Rebels comfortably in his top tier, the assumptions that he's a lock for Ole Miss used to unnerve Singleton. Now he tries to ignore the rumors and gossip. The same goes for the recent scuttlebutt that Mississippi State has made a significant move for Singleton's signature.
"I hear it, but I block it out," Singleton said. "I don't listen to any ideas other than my own. A lot of people come telling me how Ole Miss and State are going to be this or that, and they have this person or that person, and people always tell me about the quarterbacks at those schools. But I've got to see it with my own eyes. I'm my own judge."
Singleton's mother, Kathy, visited Ole Miss last Saturday to see her child that goes to school in Oxford, Miss., and she also checked out some football-related portions of the campus, as well. It's the first campus trip for Singleton's mother, and he wants to make sure she gets other visits to grade against Ole Miss. There's a common theme: gather as much information as possible.
"No, that wasn't a big deal to me," Singleton said. "That's just for her to go sightsee. She said she liked it up there, but she doesn't have anything to compare it to. She hasn't seen everybody else yet, so we've got to let her see those schools too."
Singleton views his commitment as a business decision. He, of course, wants to be comfortable and happy with his college experience outside the football field, but playing time and development toward the National Football League are the main selling points he wants. As with most elite recruits, Singleton has confidence in his abilities. He's searching for the right supporting cast.
"I'm going to take a lot of visits," Singleton said. "I'll be at (Mississippi) State and Ole Miss and see what they are about throwing the ball, running the ball. I'll be watching that. And then other schools also. I still like Oklahoma a lot."
PACKAGE DEAL?: Singleton is steadfast with his independence and plan to be his own decider - with limited assistance from those close to him.
However, there is one person that seems to have a direct line into Singleton's thought process. No, it's not a relative, a coach or a teammate. It's a fierce foe that is also a friend.
It's Mississippi's top player, Nickalos Brassell. One would think a South Panola wide receiver and a Madison Central wide receiver wouldn't exactly strike up a lasting friendship. But with recruiting, talent respects talent. And both guys have it in bulk.
When asked what game Singleton is most looking forward to, he said South Panola. Problem is the Jaguars and Tigers aren't matched up on the schedule. When asked to clarify, it made sense.
"We play them the end of November," Singleton said, referencing the state playoff semifinals. "It's one game at a time until we get to South Panola."
But that's a rivalry for the two teams. The individual rivalry between Singleton and Brassell is competitive but hospitable. The two routinely share texts and always occupy the same group when together at camps and campus trips.
And, surprisingly, both insist they are going to the same college. They even share the same announcement date: the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonia, Texas, during early January.
"It's very real," Singleton said, discussing the two playing together at the next level. "He texted me Friday and told me to have a good game. I didn't text him back right then because I was trying to prepare, but we're planning to go to the same college."
Brassell mirrors Singleton's thoughts.
"We'll be together for the next few years," Brassell said to RebelGrove.com on July 24. "Tobias can tell you what schools are in the running. We're doing this together."
And if they are, one school will have quite the holiday a week after the New Year.
It's an interesting contradiction. Singleton remains open and undecided, maintaining that the decision will not be influenced. While, at the same time, two of the state's big fish are planning to be a package deal.
If Singleton knows his destination and isn't telling, he might be chasing the wrong hardware. Instead of All-America status, Singleton could be more suited for an Academy Award.
"I'm just taking my time," Singleton said. "I'm going to wait my time out, and when it's right, I'll commit. When I know the right place."