A year after his older brother went from a relative unknown in Canada to a ratio-breaking linebacker, Matt Singleton will follow his older brother into the CFL.
Alex was selected sixth overall in the first round by the Stampeders in the 2016 CFL draft and earned a starting job part way through last season. The six-foot-two, 235-pounder led all Canadian first-year players with 65 tackles and quickly become a ratio-changer at linebacker.
“I got to come up for the semi-finals when Calgary played BC at home,” Matt says. “Walking around before the game, people would find out I was Alex’s brother and everyone wanted to talk to me. I thought he’s only been here for a couple months and he’s already made this impression.”
While Matt was preparing and playing his senior college season, he kept up with what Alex was doing in Canada.
“I couldn’t watch all of his games live, but the device I used to watch them has replay so I watched all of them. I had probably seen a couple CFL games in my life before watching my brother play last year, but I never sat down, learned the teams, rules and watched consistently until Alex was up there,” Singleton says. “I remember watching a Winnipeg game a couple seasons ago, I forget who they were playing, but I just remember it was Winnipeg and I thought the Blue Bombers was a cool name. That was the first team I knew about and first game I watched.”
Matt gained his Canadian citizenship at the same time as his older brother – their mom was born in Toronto – in order to become a national player in the CFL. They gained official Canadian status last May.
Last year, Matt played 11 games at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota – he didn’t receive a single scholarship offer coming out of high school – registering 50 tackles, two sacks and one interception while playing every linebacker spot. A few CFL scouts made their way to campus, which Singleton says was the first time pro scouts had come to a practice or game in program history. Never has a Black Hills State product played in the CFL and only one – tight end Zac Alcorn – suited up for an NFL regular season game.
That interest earned Singleton an invite to the 2017 national CFL combine in Regina set for March 23-25. Alex went through a Pro Day at Montana State in 2015 and he’s been constantly helping his younger brother prepare. Over the winter break both Matt and Alex were in California training.
“My hips are the biggest area I need to improve on. For example, one of the days we were at home working out and doing exercises Alex does everyday my hips and gluts were absolutely on fire. He was showing me the importance of having strong hips and core and how that can be more important than any other part of your body being in shape,” Matt explains.
The Singleton brothers talk on a daily basis about combine prep. Back when the two were growing up on the Left coast they used to dream about playing pro football together.
“The past couple months I’ve been saying if I get drafted in the CFL and my brother says get ready for it to happen then because you’re going to get drafted,” Singleton says. “It’s still kind of surreal to think that we could be playing together on the same field again.”
As Singleton has been working to be ready for the biggest football moment of his life, CFL scouts have been carefully evaluating his film and gathering background information.
“He is a smart, athletic player that had some productive years at Black Hills State. I’m guessing he’ll test well and give a good showing at the combine,” one talent evaluator says.
“Most likely an undersized linebacker that can bang around in the box or possibly play free safety in some schemes,” another personnel man adds.
Alex put on his scouting cap and assessed his brother.
“He has the same build and speed as a player like Adam Bighill. Matt’s got a high football IQ just like his older brother,” Singleton says with a laugh. “It will only take a short time for him to adjust to the bigger field. Once he gets the playbook and how to be a pro down, the sky is the limit.”
The older brother will be in Saskatchewan to see the younger Singleton perform live at the combine. As Matt looks to continue making the Singleton name well known in CFL circles.