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MailTribune.com
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Catching on at OSU

    Solid showing in spring camp by Singler opens door for potential role on special teams
  • When results from Oregon State's annual spring football game were posted in May, it undoubtedly left many across the nation thumbing through their media guides or searching the school's website.
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    • MITCH SINGLER
      WHO: A 6-foot-2, 205-pound redshirt freshman receiver at Oregon State.
      • WHAT: Singler hauled in a team-best six passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns during OSU's annual spring game i...
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      MITCH SINGLER
      WHO: A 6-foot-2, 205-pound redshirt freshman receiver at Oregon State.

      • WHAT: Singler hauled in a team-best six passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns during OSU's annual spring game in May. Earlier in the Beavers' first full spring scrimmage, he caught four passes for 59 yards and two TDs.
      • UP NEXT: Fall camp starts Aug. 9 in Corvallis. OSU's season opens Sept. 4 against Texas Christian in Arlington, Texas.
  • When results from Oregon State's annual spring football game were posted in May, it undoubtedly left many across the nation thumbing through their media guides or searching the school's website.
    The big question? Who in the heck is Mitch Singler?
    The reason for such a query? The redshirt freshman had just concluded his first spring with the Beavers by possibly making the biggest splash of all with six receptions for 147 yards and three touchdowns — all team-best marks.
    Fans here are familiar with Singler, who shined as an all-state receiver at South Medford High and is among its career leaders. Still, his numbers were worth a double take. Singler entered the spring fourth on the depth chart at slot receiver and had spent the better part of his first year on campus working on drills well outside the focus of most onlookers.
    But as had been drilled into his head by his father, Bill, South Medford's head coach, Singler kept working hard in hopes his time would come. When it did, he made sure not to disappoint.
    "Definitely the spring game helped me a little bit, just to prove to the coaches and everyone that I can play at this level," says Singler, who recently returned home for a break before he re-joins the team Aug. 9. "There's some positives that came out of the spring game, but I definitely have to do it again during fall camp. I just can't be the one-hit wonder."
    Singler was working against the third- and fourth-team defenders for OSU, but making plays is still making plays, regardless of the situation. He was singled-out in praise by OSU head coach Mike Riley following the game.
    "Mitch makes plays," Riley said in a Portland Tribune article. "There's no reason why he can't be a factor for us down the road."
    Those words were as important to Singler as any touchdown catch. He realized he was taking a chance when he opted for a preferred walk-on role with the Beavers after graduating from South Medford in 2009, but there was always something special about Oregon State and Riley. The school has had its share of successful walk-ons in receiver Mike Hass (2005 Biletnikoff Award winner), place-kicker Alexis Serna (2005 Groza Award winner) and quarterback Jonathan Smith (2001 Fiesta Bowl offensive MVP), among others, and Singler would love to continue that tradition.
    "They treat everybody like we're the same, even if you're a walk-on or a scholarship player," says the 19-year-old. "Everyone will get a chance and that's what's very unique and special about Oregon State. You just have to go out there and earn your right and earn your playing time, and that's just what all of us are doing each day."
    The 6-foot-2 Singler proved helpful as a scout team member last fall for the Beavers and has shown himself to be the favorite target of redshirt freshman — and roommate — Jack Lomax. The Lake Oswego quarterback connected with Singler for all three of his TDs in the spring game, and the duo previously enjoyed a two-touchdown effort in the Beavers' first full spring scrimmage.
    "Mitch is doing a great job for us," says Jay Locey, OSU's assistant head coach and wide receivers coach. "Hard worker, great attitude, cerebral and understands the offense extremely well."
    "He's a great, great young man and made great headway in one year," Locey adds. "We're really excited about him being a part of our program."
    Stationed behind sophomore speedster Jordan Bishop (6-3, 200), senior Aaron Nichols (6-0, 185) and sophomore Kevan Walker (6-0, 200), Singler knows he has a lot of work to do before he lines up in the slot for OSU in a regular-season contest. Still, he's more than willing to put in the time — working each day on his catching ability and the crispness of his routes — and has bulked up to 205 pounds.
    "I just need to keep working my way up in the slot," he says. "Jordan Bishop's a great player and Aaron Nichols is a great route runner and very good at what he does, too. If I work on my blocking and get a little more experience, hopefully I'll be in the mix to be out there in the future."
    Until then, Singler says his best chance at making it on the field this season will come as a special teams member. It's a role Singler says Locey wants all of his receivers to play in some capacity and a plan supported by Riley.
    "All of us have a meeting with coach Riley, and he told me that one main way to get me on the field this year is to be on special teams," says Singler. "If I get on special teams that means I'll be on the traveling team, and anything can happen from there."
    The only catch? Singler's experience on special teams is limited, to say the least. He served on the front line a couple times on kickoff returns in his junior and senior seasons as a Panther and was a gunner on the punting squad as a senior.
    Still, Singler says he's enjoying the opportunity.
    "It's a new thing but it's actually kinda fun just running down and making plays," he says. "You definitely feel for what past teammates have done. It's just a bunch of crazy kids going all out and head-hunting for the ball."
    Singler says he's currently working on the punt return team as a blocker.
    "It's exciting because that's an opportunity for me to play and that's the only thing I want to do is play and help out the team," he says. "It's a happy moment to hear that you actually are important to the team. If I can prove myself by working hard every day and on special teams, I can see myself playing on the field as a receiver one day."
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com
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