Standing idly on the sideline has never appealed to Jack Singler.
Standing idly on the sideline has never appealed to Jack Singler.
So when it came time for the former South Medford quarterback to plot his future, he got in the game. The recruiting game, that is.
Singler was a second-team all-Southwest Conference selection as a senior in 2011, and he had a smattering of interest from small-college recruiters.
"I knew I could play at a higher level," he says.
On that premise, he and his father, Bill, the South Medford head coach whose football acumen is vast and his contact list long, developed a plan. They'd seek out junior college options, which would give Jack a couple years to develop physically and hone his skills in hopes of improving his chances with four-year schools.
It's hard to argue with the results.
Singler ended up at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif., which is west of San Jose at the south end of San Francisco Bay. It's an affluent, educated area, the football program is on the rise and the possibility of playing time appeared better than at other schools examined by the Singlers.
"I didn't recruit Jack," says seventh-year De Anza coach Dan Atencio. "He called us."
Both are glad for the connection.
Singler, a sophomore, took over as the starter this year and has distinguished himself in a league considered a hotbed of talent for larger schools.
He's coming off a monster game in a narrow loss and leads the NorCal Conference in passing yards per game (272.4) and touchdowns (15) through five contests.
Singler has completed 96 of 164 passes (58.5 percent) and has been intercepted only four times in leading the Dons to a 3-2 record.
De Anza's two defeats were in its two most recent games. Both were to teams ranked in the top 10 in the California Community College Football Poll, and each was decided on the last play of the game.
No. 9 Sierra College beat the Dons when it returned a punt 4 yards — yes, 4 yards — for a 35-28 win. Fifth-ranked and unbeaten College of the Sequoias downed No. 8 De Anza when, in the final minutes, it returned a blocked point-after attempt for two points, then kicked a field goal of 33 yards as time expired for a 41-39 victory — the difference being the PAT return.
"No one asks for their money back after our games," says Atencio. "They're real nail-biters."
That's why he so appreciates Singler.
"Somehow he's learned along the way to be real cool under pressure," says Atencio. "He looks like he came from really good stock. There are a lot of athletes in his family, and he's learned a lot from those guys about how to be poised under pressure. He's really good. He doesn't get rattled."
A prime example was against Sequoias two Saturdays ago (the Dons were off this past weekend and begin conference play this week). Singler connected on 24 of 42 passes for 437 yards and four touchdowns. He wasn't intercepted.
Little did Atencio know he'd have a quarterback who could produce such numbers come knocking at his door.
The Singlers narrowed their wish list to three NorCal colleges: Santa Rosa, Foothill and De Anza.
Bill Singler played collegiately at Stanford and is well-versed in the area's football culture.
"He's been around and knows what he's doing," says Jack. "He just wanted the best for me. He's always been involved in the recruiting process. He made lists of the JCs that had good qualities and bad qualities and we narrowed it down to the best choices for me and the best opportunity to move on to a four-year school."
No stones were left unturned.
Atencio remembers addressing a clinic for three hours, only to discover Bill Singler was in attendance to check him out, says the De Anza coach.
When the Singlers visited later, says Jack, the two coaches talked for an hour about mutual coaching acquaintances. One of them is Mike Mitchell, the North Medford head coach. Atencio was Mitchell's defensive coordinator for a year at De Anza.
A great majority of De Anza's players come from San Jose. Few are from out of the area, let alone out of state. The team has a unique bond in that way, says Atencio, adding that Singler, the lone Oregonian on the roster, has fit in nicely.
As a freshman, Singler played behind All-American Josh McCain, who is now the backup quarterback at Idaho.
The rookie "got a couple snaps" he deemed invaluable.
"I got to see what the game is like at the college level and got that feel for it," says Singler. "I did a lot of offseason work, both mentally and physically. I was in the weight room three times a day and on the field running and throwing. I was studying more and more and just trying to get ready for this year."
It didn't take long to realize there are bigger, better athletes in college and the tempo of games is faster. There's not as much time to spend in the pocket, so reads must be quick and the ball must be delivered accurately and forcefully.
Regular visits to the weight room have enabled Singler to add 20 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame, getting him to 180.
"It helps," he says. "There are corners who are D1 players. You've got to get the ball in the right spot. Working on that has been huge for me."
There are three levels of JC ball in California. De Anza has moved up from C to B and, last year, to A, putting it at the top rung. That's one of the reasons Singler, who lives with his godparents, was attracted to the program.
"They're building a program and I just wanted to be a part of that," he says, noting that De Anza has played against B and C teams.
"You can tell the difference," he says. "In the A league, almost every player has the potential to go on and play Division 1 or 2. You can tell the difference between the athletes and the players."
Singler has gradually gotten more comfortable in his role. In the first game, he admits to feeling nervous. Rotating with a teammate, he felt the need "to prove myself ... I was trying to make big plays."
Now he's more confident in making the right reads and readily puts trust in his linemen. Oh, and receiver Bryan Fobbs, who is ranked first in the NorCal in catches (50), yards (899), yards per game (179.8) and touchdowns (13).
"He's a heck of a receiver," says Singler. "He runs great routes and probably has some of the best hands I've seen."
Each is making the other look pretty good.
Atencio has fielded inquiries from four-year schools about Singler and is convinced he'll end up at a Division I school.
"It's warming up," says Atencio. "These guys look at stats, too."
If it pans out, says Singler, a redshirt year would allow him to further grow, then give him two years to compete.
"I think he's not even close to his potential," says Atencio. "It's all ahead of him. He's improving all the time."
Singler is looking to finish strong, although four of the Dons' five remaining opponents are ranked in the top six in the Northern California Football Association.
"We're getting better," he says. "We're more in the flow on offense and our defense is playing great. We have a chance in our league to make some noise."
And he won't be watching idly from the sideline.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com