Austin Singleton spent the 2011 high school football season dominating offensive linemen from his defensive tackle position.
The plan for 2012? Branch out to and dominate on the offensive line.
The Blackman senior will play on both sides of the front line, adding offensive tackle to his Friday night responsibilities. It’s an added duty he welcomes.
“It’s fine,” Singleton said. “I’m going to do anything I need to do to help the team. I knew all of the plays because I ran a few of them my junior year.”
Singleton will start at right tackle, where Blackman coach Philip Shadowens said he can make a quick impact.
“He could be a dominant offensive player as well as a dominant defensive player,” Shadowens said. “Obviously, we’ll have to pick and choose his breaks because I don’t think any lineman can play 48 minutes.”
Singleton, who was a 2011 DNJ All-Area First Team Selection, said he’s looking forward to this season. The Blaze defense has something to prove after it struggled to stop teams this past season.
The defense gave up 333.4 yards a game, including 186.7 yards on the ground last season. Opponents averaged 24.2 points a game on the Blaze in 2011.
Former MTCS and La Vergne defensive coordinator Steve Williams joined the staff in the offseason and is the coordinator this year.
Singleton admitted there was a problem on defense. But he said part of it was a reliant on current Ole Miss freshman I’Tavius Mathers.
“I think we had a problem,” Singleton said. “I’Tavius being as good as he was, everyone wanted to watch him.
“Now everybody has to step up. You can’t replace him.”
To overcome the loss of Mathers, Singleton said the offseason workout program was designed around getting stronger and tougher for the season.
“We weren’t physical really at all last year,” Singleton said. “I think we’ve got more people on defense that is going to step up this year.”
Singleton said he shed a few pounds in the offseason and is now 6-foot-1, 310 pounds. He can still manhandle an offensive lineman and force a double team.
“He is hard to block because he’s got a great explosive first step,” Shadowens said. “He’s got good feet and a lot of punch in his first step. I truly think he could be one of the best linemen I’ve ever coached and I’ve had some good ones.”