May 25, 2024

Nicholas Singleton investing fully in Andy Kotelnicki’s new playbook

Penn State Nittany Lions Football

Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton carries the ball for a first down during the second quarter against Illinois Saturday, September 16, 2023 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Although his production dropped significantly under Mike Yurcich’s watch last season, the running back expects his numbers to increase as Andy Kotelnicki orchestrates Penn State’s offense this spring.

Nicholas Singleton is willing to do anything it takes in order for the Nittany Lions to have a potent offense this fall. The two-time, All-Big Ten performer is no stranger to sacrificing either. After all, Singleton has shared carries in the backfield with Kaytron Allen over the past two years.

He was a 1,000-yard rusher as a true freshman in 2022, but many fans thought Yurcich didn’t utilize all of Singleton’s talent last season. However, Kotelnicki has unleashed his new playbook on the entire offense, and Singleton is soaking it up like a sponge through spring ball.

“Coach K. told us straight up that he’s giving the best players the ball, so everybody has to show up in the spring and camps,” Singleton said. “I’m excited about that, the plays he has, it just shows we’re ready for it, I can see the plays working.”

Singleton’s versatility should give Kotelnicki options, considering he’s a big bruiser at 226 pounds on a six-foot frame, and is also explosive enough to outrun defensive backs at the third level. The former five-star prospect has a nose for the endzone, with 20 rushing scores over the past two seasons. Singleton is a weapon out of the backfield with soft hands too, and averaged 11.8 yards per catch in 2023.

He believes he has matured as a rusher, and his knowledge of the game is at an all-time high. That means he’s holding himself accountable, taking on more responsibility, and being a leader. Singleton understands his vision has to be on point, even if the ball isn’t in his hands. The Blue and White Game is coming up, and Singleton is confident that Kotelnicki is admiring his running style.

“I feel like I’ve been better running the ball, catching, blocking too, just being a complete back,” he said. “Studying defenses more, seeing the different types of fronts in pre-snap, post snap, so I can react faster.”

Singleton and Allen have the potential to be the best rushing tandem in the Big Ten. The two combined for 1,928 rushing yards  and 22 touchdowns in 2022. That production dropped to 1,654 yards on the ground, and 14 rushing scores last year. That’s why Singleton is eager to deliver every time his number is called, which in return will lead to Kotelnicki having more trust in him.

“Just being patient in the backfield, and when I see the hole, just run through it,” 20-year old said. “Not trying to overthink stuff, and just trusting my instincts.”

The Pennsylvania native left a lasting impression when he rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown at Michigan State. Now Singleton wants to build on that performance, and execute more explosive plays too. Last season his longest touchdown run was just 16 yards. Not to mention most of his scores were inside the five-yard line.

There’s no denying Singleton can develop into a rusher that score from anywhere on the field. Regardless, he believes it all comes down to having great vision and making a defender miss.

“When everyone blocks, you only have one to make miss, and once you do that you score a touchdown, so we’ve been doing that throughout practice, and it’s going to translate to the game.”