You won’t find Bryce Singleton’s name atop any major offensive category among area players in 2016. Not touchdowns. Not receiving yards or catches, or even yards from scrimmage.
The Hilton Head Island senior is second on a few of those lists, though. And in a season when the Lowcountry seemingly overflowed with dynamic players, there’s one next-level stat no one else could match.
One out of every 4.9 plays that the ball finished in Singleton’s hands also wound up in the end zone. A difference-maker’s difference, rising above the pack to be the Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette’s Offensive Player of the Year.
“That’s crazy,” Singleton said upon learning the number. “That’s my first time hearing that, and it’s very surprising. It just tells me that we were a very explosive team this year.”
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Seahawks coach B.J. Payne had another take: “It means we didn’t get him enough touches. One every 4.9? That’s really ridiculous.”
Singleton scored 24 touchdowns in 2016, two behind Beaufort’s Wyatt Sherpensky. But his came a little more efficiently, needing just 118 plays to do his damage.
Though Singleton’s receiving yardage was down from his school-record 2015 season, 10 of his 38 catches went for scores. If his 23 yards per reception didn’t top the charts, it had to be close.
As a runner, Singleton scored on 11 of his 41 carries. Three more TDs came on punt or kickoff returns. The apex came at Colleton County, when Singleton crashed the end zone six times.
“It was like it was a walkthrough, only he was full-go,” Payne said.
The stat doesn’t count the 20 passes Singleton threw, either from the wildcat look or when filling in for injured starter Collin Kaiser. But Singleton was proficient there, too, throwing for 193 yards and one more TD.
“In my 14 years of coaching, he’s probably the best all-around skill guy that I’ve coached,” said Payne, whose alumni list includes 10-year NFL veteran Brian Hartline.
Then again, Hartline didn’t have the skill set that Singleton possesses — one that the Seahawks nearly didn’t get to enjoy after Singleton sat out his sophomore season.
A quarterback since his youth football days, Singleton also played the position as a freshman. But he saw a roadblock ahead in Aidan Hegarty — last season’s Offensive Player of the Year — and decided to focus on the hardwood.
“At the time, football wasn’t my first love. It was basketball,” Singleton said. “So OK, if I’m not going to play quarterback, I’m going to focus on basketball.”
It didn’t take long for Singleton to regret it. Pointing to the fence in front of the Seahawks’ concession stand, he recalled a season of longing.
“It was bad,” Singleton said. “I stood every game on the side of that fence, watching them play and badly wishing I could play. It was a terrible feeling. Bad choice, but I don’t regret it. That year I did get in the weight room and got bigger.”
When Singleton came back, he told Payne he wanted to play receiver. He wound up shattering school marks with 73 catches and 1,219 yards. Then came this season.
“When you think there’s nothing more he can do,” Payne said, “he comes out and does more.”
Singleton is seeing his college offers improve, too. He’ll visit Cincinnati next weekend and recently got an offer from new Florida International coach Butch Davis, who rebuilt the University of Miami dynasty more than a decade ago. Ohio University also is down for a visit.
IP/BG Offensive Players of the Year
2015: QB Aidan Hegarty, Hilton Head Island
2014: RB Gavin Bush, Ridgeland-Hardeeville
2013: RB Eric Blakely, Beaufort
2012: QB C.J. Frazier, Bluffton
2011: QB C.J. Frazier, Bluffton
2010: RB Eric Boyles, Bluffton
2009: QB Luke Sirgo, Hilton Head Christian
2008: QB Luke Sirgo, Hilton Head Christian
2007: RB Adrene Byas, Beaufort
2006: QB Gabe Gilmour, Hilton Head Christian
2005: RB Gerald Legree, Beaufort
2004: RB Gerald Legree, Beaufort
2003: WR Tremel Kline, Battery Creek
2002: QB Colin Drafts, Battery Creek
2001: QB John Snell, Hilton Head Island
2000: QB Herman Smith, Beaufort
1999: RB Greg Jones, Battery Creek
1998: RB Cameron Reynolds, Thomas Heyward
1997: RB Charlie Parrish, Thomas Heyward
1996: RB Raymond Robinson, Hilton Head Island
1995: RB John Singleton, Jasper County