Running Man

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze made a notable position switch Tuesday afternoon, moving wide receiver Tobias Singleton to running back as the team practiced indoors due to inclement weather.

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Singleton, a former four-star recruit out of Madison, Miss., has played the position before. He started as a running back at Madison Central in 9th grade. He's even practiced the position while at home with his brother, who is a high school running back.

"When I'm at home, I kind of practice with my little brother, ‘cause he plays running back. It's kind of normal for me," he said. "I felt like I did good (Tuesday) for it to be my first time back at running back."

Ole Miss is thin at running back, with veterans Jeff Scott and Devin Thomas the only running backs on the roster with any real playing time to speak of in their respective careers.

Scott led Ole Miss in rushing last season, carrying 116 times for 529 yards and six touchdowns. He's missed the last two practices with a fever. Singleton was given multiple reps at running back Tuesday. Freeze said he looked decent, considering.

"We all know how thin we are there," Freeze said following practice. "I asked him today if he thought he could do that. He said absolutely. I thought he looked pretty decent at it for not knowing what he was doing. He's got a little burst. He'll get more reps at it."

Tobias Singleton
Chuck Rounsaville

After a slow start in his freshman season and struggling to make an impact as a wide receiver, Singleton finally showcased his abilities as a kick returner. He was tops on the team with 516 return yards on 21 attempts, with a long of 47 yards.

Singleton said the same techniques he used as a returner can be applied to running back.

"Helps a lot. You've got to keep the ball up high and keep the ball tucked away and stay down low. That's all the techniques of a running back," he said. "It's hard work at running back, ‘cause you've got so many guys coming at you. You've just got to get up field."

Unlike other position groups, Ole Miss has depth at wide receiver, allowing for such a move. Singleton was running mostly with the second and third teams over the first week and a half of spring practices. The timing was right.

"I hope it (sticks). I love receiver. I think I'm going to still play it a little bit. But running back's where my heart is," Singleton said. "I saw a big opportunity. I just want to go back and help my team."

Freeze is in his first year at Ole Miss after one season as head coach of Arkansas State. The Red Wolves finished the year 10-2, thanks mostly to an offense that finished in the top-25 in the nation in total offense.

The up-tempo, always-go offense is a complicated one. However, Singleton is confident he can get it down.

"It's going to be tough coming in late and learning stuff. But with (running backs) Coach (Derrick) Nix and Deuce (McAllister), it's going to be easier," Singleton said.

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