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Singleton couldn't quite let football go

Trevor Singleton (10) takes a break on the sideline as Hoggard High School faces the Irmo football team in the Carolinas Kickoff Clash at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium in Myrtle Beach Saturday Aug. 31, 2013. (Photo by By PAUL STEPHEN/StarNews)

Trevor Singleton reported for the first class of his senior year with his place in Hoggard High School history already secure.

On the basketball court, Singleton earned StarNews Player of the Year honors last winter and has a strong chance to become the program's all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots. A varsity starter since midway through his freshman season, the 6-foot-7 forward expects to continue his career at the Division I level.

Still, Singleton worried he'd look back on high school and lament a missed opportunity. That explains why he showed up at Hoggard's field house on Aug. 3, ready for his first football practice in nearly three years.

Singleton will soon turn his focus toward crafting an appropriate cap for his decorated basketball career. For now, he's doing his part as a reserve wide receiver, happy to help the Vikings any way he can in his unexpected return to the gridiron.

"I just like the game," said Singleton, whose team will try to get to 4-0 on Friday night against Wake Forest. "I missed it. … I've loved it since I was a little kid. It was a good debate, but I figured since it's my senior year, I might as well go out like I wanted to and play two sports."

Hoggard has had success with converted basketball players under football coach Scott Braswell. Reggie Hayes, a 1999 graduate, was a basketball standout who played just one season of high school football before landing a scholarship to play defensive line at Marshall.

Former Vikings Rob Varno (2004) and Will Wright (2007) also played forward on the basketball team before playing college football at William & Mary and Wake Forest, respectively.

Braswell had made his recruiting pitch to Singleton before, and by the start of preseason practice, he figured Singleton's football career was finished. Instead, Singleton joined the Vikings for their third practice and has worked out at wide receiver, tight end and defensive end.

With senior Randall Emerson and junior Harrison Smith entrenched as the starting receivers, Singleton has been able to ease into a reserve role, often running routes that utilize his size and strength. He has averaged about 15 offensive snaps per game with one catch, a sliding three-yard touchdown grab in a win over Irmo (S.C.) on Aug. 31.

Now Braswell believes Singleton has the measurables to entice college football recruiters, if he chooses that path.

"We'll continue to try and develop him and fit him in there," Braswell said. "He just needs some film because if he gets anything on film, they're going to take him. A year in a college program, and he's off and running."

Singleton grew up playing Pop Warner football with the Wilmington Colts and stood out as a lanky wide receiver and safety on the junior varsity squad, then made the decision to focus solely on basketball.

Though Singleton expressed interest in returning as a junior, he ended up missing the football season as he recovered from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his shin, a basketball injury.

Meantime, Singleton continued to shine on the hardwood. He averaged 18.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game for the Vikings last winter and has garnered heavy interest from several colleges.

The forward didn't work out with the football team this summer, choosing to focus on the AAU basketball circuit. College coaches project him as an undersized forward who can step out to the perimeter and stretch the defense, and he gained valuable exposure in that role over the summer.

Still, Singleton privately wrestled with his desire to play football, calling his choice to attend his first practice "last-minute."

"It can't do anything but help him," Hoggard boys basketball coach Brett Queen said. "I think there's a certain level of toughness you get from basketball you don't get in other places, and the same thing goes with football. … And it's not like he's just going to put the basketball down and not pick it up until November."

During the week, he's focused on football. It was a challenge to learn the playbook quickly, and his legs were constantly sore at the beginning as he re-adjusted to the types of cuts necessary on the football field.

Singleton has been able to work out in the gym on the weekends, either at Hoggard or the local YMCA. He's been working on his jump shot and ball-handling during those sessions.

Singleton said he expects to play college basketball but will keep his options open. While basketball is still his first passion, football is growing on him again.

"When you score a touchdown in football, it's pretty exciting," Singleton said. "I was pretty excited when I scored my first touchdown. It was like winning a basketball game for the championship."

Eric Detweiler: 343-2263

On Twitter: @starnewsvarsity