The NCAA’s new redshirt rule seems made for Foster Singleton, a freshman offensive tackle at the University of Richmond who graduated from Trinity Episcopal.
Singleton, playing against Prep League competition at this time last year, spent preseason practice and Richmond’s first seven game weeks learning, uninvolved on Saturdays. Now he is playing, primarily because of injuries to other Spiders’ offensive linemen, but without using one of his four seasons of eligibility.
Singleton, a 6-foot-5 260-pounder, recalls hearing about the mid-June modification of the redshirt rule. It allows a player to compete in up to four games and still redshirt the season. Previously, if a player competed in any game, for any number of snaps, that counted as one of his four years of eligibility.
“At the beginning of the season, a lot of people were talking about [the new rule]. I was just hoping that in games that were like blowouts, or something like that, I could get in and get some experience in games like that,” Singleton said.
As it turned out, Singleton’s first collegiate action came as a starter at tackle in last Saturday’s 38-28 loss at Elon, now ranked No. 8 in the FCS poll. The Spiders brought seven offensive linemen to that game: one senior, two redshirt sophomores, one redshirt freshman and three true freshmen.
“It was kind of surreal at first. When we broke the huddle, I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m really out here playing college football,’ ” Singleton said.
Four offensive linemen were unavailable because of injuries. In UR’s previous game, a 27-24 win at Albany on Oct. 13, starting tight end Stephon Jacob switched from his No. 9 jersey to No. 51 during the game and played part of the evening at offensive tackle.
Against Elon, “Foster didn’t look lost out there. He actually did a pretty nice job for his first time in a college game, playing against a pretty good football team,” UR coach Russ Huesman said. “He looked composed out there, for the most part. Proud of him.”
Singleton is well aware that he needs to add strength and weight. He hopes to reach 300 pounds, “or as heavy as I can get without losing athleticism.” In terms of blocking technique and understanding of Richmond’s offensive system, Singleton acknowledged that he was not prepared to be productive early this season.
Competing in practice against UR’s starting defensive linemen, film study and good coaching accelerated his development, Singleton believes. He contributed at Elon, and will continue to do for the remainder of the season. Richmond (3-5, 1-4 CAA) is off this weekend, and then plays three more games. That will give Singleton four this season.
“While not losing a year,” he said.