For Matt Singletary, the toughest aspect to leaving a school where his father was arguably the best player of all-time had nothing to do with disappointing dad.
It was saying goodbye to teammates, a family of sorts, so he could be closer to a biological family that nearly has enough members to qualify as a team.
“Leaving your family that you’ve had for two-and-a-half years, that was the hardest part,” Singletary said.
“You’re rooming with guys that have been your best friends. It was a lot more difficult than I thought, but I just figured I wanted to be doing what I was supposed to be doing. I just don’t think it was here.”
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Singletary said Tuesday he transferred from Baylor — where his dad, San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, was a three-time All-American linebacker — with the intention of attending Cal Poly and playing for the Mustangs football team next fall.
Matt Singletary, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end, would not have to sit out as a junior next season since he is transferring to a lower subdivision and would have two years of eligibility.
He said he has already left Baylor, is biding his time taking classes at West Valley College and plans to play for Cal Poly in 2010. Mustangs head coach Tim Walsh is prohibited from commenting on potential Division I transfers until they sign scholarship agreements and enroll in classes, but Walsh did confirm that Singletary is a Cal Poly recruit.
Singletary, who took an official visit to Cal Poly in early January, said his main reasons for transferring are to be closer to his parents and five siblings, who range from 12 to 23 years old. Once Mike Singletary took the job with the 49ers, Matt Singletary finished high school just a few hours up U.S. 101 at San Jose’s Valley Christian after growing up most of his life in Chicago.
Singletary’s older sister Kristen was attending Baylor with him until her graduation last spring, but he spent this past season in Waco, Texas, alone.
That and a lack of playing time led to his decision to leave the school where Mike Singletary, an NFL Hall of Famer after a 12-year professional career with the Chicago Bears, set single-season and career records for tackles and led the program to its only 10-win season.
“Honestly, I was calling my dad, and if I had to do another year of this, I was contemplating just not playing football anymore,” said Matt Singletary, who recorded just two tackles and one for loss in his career as a Baylor Bear. “I just wasn’t happy. Not saying anything bad about the coaching staff at Baylor. They were great. I just didn’t think it was the right fit for me.
“Once it got to that standpoint, he was 100 percent behind me, and I thought that was pretty cool.”
Not expected to be announced with Cal Poly’s list of high school commitments the Mustangs receive today — the opening of the National Letter of Intent signing period — Singletary would be the second Division I transfer reported to commit to the school this offseason from a Bowl Championship Series conference.
West Virginia running back Mark Rodgers told The Tribune last week that he was transferring to Cal Poly.
Unlike Rodgers, however, who was recruited out of high school by Walsh while the Mustangs coach was the head coach at Portland State, Singletary had no prior connection with the Cal Poly staff.
Never having set foot in San Luis Obispo, he found out about Cal Poly through a source with the 49ers.
Researching schools to suggest to his son, Mike Singletary consulted with San Francisco assistant special teams coach Dave Fipp, a former Cal Poly assistant coach and defensive coordinator under Rich Ellerson.
“He had known that I coached there and he asked me about Cal Poly,” said Fipp, who has also coached at his alma mater, Arizona, in addition to Holy Cross, San Jose State and Nevada. “What kind of place it was, what kind of community, what the school, the teachers, the academic environment was like.
“And I told him, to me, it’s the best place in the world … I always feel like I’m giving a recruiting spiel, but I’m really not. It’s just my favorite place. Out of all the schools that I’ve been at, it’s by far the best one. When you talk about the whole experience, it’s not even close.”
While he was the co-defensive coordinator for the Spartans, Fipp scouted Matt Singletary during his senior high school season but could not give much insight into how well he might do at the Football Championship Subdivision level.
Fipp said he saw Singletary playing offensive line at Valley Christian, and since then, Singletary has gone through a couple of position changes.
He started out as a defensive end at Baylor before coaches converted him to a blocking tight end and then back to a defensive end this past season.
“I do know he’s a good young man for sure and will help that program just in terms of character and all those things,” Fipp said, “and he comes from, obviously, a great family.”