Nichole Singleton dreaded his son’s first football games in the Mifflin Broncos’ youth program on Saturday morning.
It was flag football and it was chaotic. The 6-year-olds didn’t know where to line up or what to do when the ball was broken.
Nick dreaded them too. He was calm and shy around strangers.
She had the task of driving him to the games because her husband, Timmy, worked those days. They were both ready to wrap him up but Timmy asked him to give him a chance.
So she bribed Nick and promised him a trip to his favorite fast food restaurant if he went to the games.
âIf you get five flags today, I’ll take you to McDonald’s,â she told him.
“Five flags and can I have McDonald’s?” He would respond enthusiastically.
That’s how it all started for Governor Mifflin’s football star who was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year on Tuesday and will sign a letter of intent to play at Penn State on Wednesday.
âI had to kind of get him involved,â Nichole Singleton said. âThen he really started to do it and the competitiveness came out. He was like, ‘I can do that. I really can do it. “
Nick Singleton’s success at a young age gave him self-confidence, helped him overcome his shyness, and ignited his desire to be great.
âHe found something that he was really good at, and that became his identity,â said Timmy Singleton. âIt became what it was. He just wanted to be good. He continued to drive and move forward.
Singleton’s four years at Mifflin have been historic. He set Berks County records with 6,326 rushing yards and 116 touchdowns during his career as he led the Mustangs to a 32-11 record, three Berks Football League Section 1 titles and a District 3 Class 5A Championship.
This season, he ran for 2,059 yards, scored 44 touchdowns and led the Mustangs to a 10-1 record, a league title and the district final.
“Nick wrote the book about what a full running back is,” Mifflin coach Jeff Lang said. âThis kid has size, strength and speed. He will knock you down. He will hug your arm to the ground. He will overtake you and move away from the defenses. It will set you in motion or jump on you.
“It’s the complete package.”
Long before their son’s high school accomplishments, Timmy and Nichole Singleton each had an eye-opening when they realized he could be special.
Timmy, Nick’s youth football coach, trained with him during a particularly hot summer when he was 10 years old.
âHe wouldn’t give up,â Timmy said. âThere were times we were outside and it was hot. I would feel bad and I would say, âYo, you can stop. He was like, ‘No, I’ll do the last rehearsal.’ That’s when I knew he was focusing on being good.
A few years later, Nick was the Broncos quarterback in a close game at the midget level. During a time out, his father called a play Nick didn’t want to perform. The play has been stopped. The Broncos lost. Nick and Nichole have never forgotten.
âHe was very upset,â Nichole said. âHe said, ‘Dad, I can see what’s going on on the pitch and you can’t. I know what everyone is going to do. If you had let me do what I wanted, we would have won.
âThat’s when I knew. I was like, ‘Wow!’ “
That same summer, Nick began training at Garage Strength in Richmond Township on the recommendation of Neil George, the father of former Berks Catholic soccer player and current Pitt soccer player Brandon George.
âHe wanted to be the best,â Nichole said. âIf he wanted this, he knew he had to get stronger and more physical. It is also the speed. He wanted to do it.
Dane Miller, a former Schuylkill Valley and Penn State athlete, owns the gym and has trained several Olympians. Even though Singleton said he was in pain for a week after his first workout, he never gave up.
âAt first it was Nick’s work ethic,â Miller said. âHe came four days a week without complaining. This is the most important thing. Everyone’s going to sit there and say he’s a monster now. No, the weird stuff happened when he was 12, 13, 14 and doing things that most kids his age don’t.
âHe has the will to be as good as possible. This is the part that sets him apart from everyone else.
DJ Shuttleworth, another former Schuylkill Valley athlete, was Singleton’s main coach during his first four years at Garage Strength.
âHe was a skinny little boy when he first got there,â Shuttleworth said. âIt was long, but it was weak. He was just a normal kid who had committed to lifting four days a week for the past six years.
âHe understood the end goal. He knew what he could be.
These days, Singleton is impressing some of the Olympians who train there, like US discus thrower Sam Mattis, who finished eighth this summer at the Tokyo Games.
âSam would see Nick every day,â Miller recalls. âLast year there was a time when Nick hit a PR (personal best) in the power clean and went over 400 pounds.
âSam said, ‘Dude, I’ve seen this kid since he was in eighth grade. Now I get pushed by him in the weight room. Itâs wild. “
Singleton has kept growing and strengthening because he is determined to become better than everyone else. Outside of football, training, and school, he has little interest in watching “Chicago PD” and horror movies.
âHe’s joking with his friends,â Lang said. ” He is lucky. He doesn’t let any of this get to his head. In fact, he turns away from it (be careful). He’s just an average Joe.
Except it isn’t. This is Nick Singleton, one of the greatest high school football players Berks County has ever seen. It was a five-star prospect who ranked the nation’s No. 1 running back by recruiting the On3 outlet.
He chose Penn State over Notre Dame, Alabama, Wisconsin, Texas A&M and others. It caught the attention of the whole country. Yet by all accounts, he remains grounded with the help of his parents, three siblings, relatives and friends.
âI’m proud of him, he handled everything well,â Nick’s dad said. âHe could be a jerk. He could walk down the halls and say, “Look at me.” It is not him. Even at home, he always empties the dishwasher.
His mom says he has a silent drive to be awesome, which is hard to explain. Dane Miller saw him in his gym.
“I can tell you that every time he goes for a big lift, everyone looks at him,” Miller said. âI’m laughing inside because I know he’s going to hit him because everyone is watching him. He thrives in this situation. It’s not like he’s a showboat. I think he’s pretty introverted.
âHowever, it does get some attention internally. He likes to be the best.