Elite USC receiver Dorian Singer never gave up his dream
Dana Zupke couldn’t explain it. As a longtime head coach at Pinnacle High in Arizona, he’d seen many kids fall through the cracks of football recruiting. That was just the reality of college football these days. But Dorian Singer was not fair any Child.
Zupke only coached the receiver for one season, but it was more than enough to know that Singer was special. His hands, Zupke says, “were incredible.” The coach jokes he might have bet a year’s salary on Singer pulling off a 50-50 ball. “Just amazing stuff,” he said.
Still, here was Singer in May of his senior year, his first and only at Pinnacle, without being offered a Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship. It wasn’t always like that. Texas had offered. State of Iowa too. The recipient had been waiting for others, one from Louisiana State, his dream school, but they never materialized. Then, for one reason or another, the first offers dried up too.
“It was the perfect storm for Dorian in a negative way,” Zupke explains.
Before he emerged as one of the most desirable receivers in the transfer market, trading Arizona for USC last offseason, Singer relocated from Minnesota to Arizona in 2020 in hopes of clinching an offer or two.
It was a bleak picture for anyone interested in his position. The pandemic — and the extra year of eligibility the NCAA awarded with it — made scholarships scarcer than ever. It wasn’t easy to get the schools’ attention. He didn’t have a national profile yet. On paper, his readings didn’t blow anyone away. There was nothing conspicuous about Singer either, except for the reserved yes-sir-no-sir demeanor.
But Singer was sure he belonged. So sure he kept waiting, even though a seat never opened up at LSU. Even when Texas coach Tom Herman was fired and replaced by Steve Sarkisian who chose not to honor his offer.
Zupke, looking for an explanation, wondered if it could be his fault. Hadn’t he done enough to help Singer? The recipient remained surprisingly calm about his circumstances.
“I was stressed for him,” said Zupke. “I thought this kid is too good not to have a scholarship to leave my school.”
Singer’s options were limited as he pondered his next moves in May 2021. Northern Arizona, a Football Championship Subdivision school, pursued him relentlessly. Arizona also expressed interest but had no available grants to offer. If he wanted to play Power Five football, he had to start as the walk-on of choice and hope Arizona would follow next season.
At the time, Singer admits he didn’t really understand what it meant to be a walk-on.
Zupke tried to convince him to go the FCS way. In Northern Arizona he had a guaranteed scholarship. Probably also an immediate career start.
“But Dorian just didn’t have it,” said Zupke. “He was confident enough to say, ‘I don’t have to settle for an FCS school.’ He wanted to prove himself on a higher level.”
Arizona coach Jedd Fisch kept his word. Shortly after his first season, Singer received a scholarship. It didn’t take long after that to prove he was worth it.
By the time USC traveled to Tucson in late October, Singer had already established himself as one of the Pac-12’s best pass catchers. Then, on his biggest stage yet, he went absolutely nuclear. He torched the Trojans for 141 yards and three touchdowns on seven catches, all with his Minnesota family and friends watching from the stands.
“Hard work goes a long way,” Singer said. “I just believed in myself and the results showed it.”
This time he had no problem catching the attention of a college staffer. USC receiver coach Dennis Simmons had seen enough.
“His catching radius, his body control were obviously outstanding in the game against us,” Simmons said.
When Singer entered the transfer portal, Simmons and his assistant Luke Huard called him as soon as it opened. It didn’t take much convincing for Singer — especially after he learned that two other Arizona players, Kyon Barrs and corner Christian Roland-Wallace, were also considering a move to USC.
USC’s offense, Singer explains, happened to be a perfect match for his skill set. “They like to go deep, take deep shots,” he says. The idea of catching passes from a Heisman Trophy winner didn’t hurt either.
With Jordan Addison on his way to the NFL, Lincoln Riley needed an elite receiver capable of putting the crown on opposing defenses. USC’s coach didn’t have to look far for Singer, whose 14 catches from 20 yards or more were the sixth-highest among collegiate wideouts last season.
Hard work goes a long way. I just believed in myself and the results showed.
— USC receiver Dorian Singer
As early as this spring, it’s built a reputation for reliability, Riley says.
“Terrific ball skills, just a few catches that make you go ‘Wow,'” Riley said. “It kind of gets to a point where you’re a little surprised when he can’t handle it, no matter how tough it looks. He just finds a way.”
It’s a fitting sentiment for the Trojans’ new star receiver, who not so long ago went without a single FBS offer.
“This whole process was different for me than anyone else,” Singer said. “When you believe, things just happen.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2023-03-27/usc-dorian-singer-never-gave-up Elite USC receiver Dorian Singer never gave up his dream