Top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history: No. 17 Chris Singletonby Anthony Gimino on Aug. 16, 2013, under Arizona football
Position, years at UA: Linebacker, 1986-89
Honors, accomplishments at UA: Earned second-team All-America honors from the Sporting News in 1989. … Was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection as a junior and senior. … Led team with 10 sacks in 1989.
Why he made our list: Singleton capped an incredible decade of linebacker play for UA, which had a first-team All-Pac-10 linebacker for eight of the 10 years in the 1980s — Ricky Hunley to LaMonte Hunley to Byron Evans to Singleton.
Singleton and his twin brother Kevin arrived in Tucson from Parsippany, N.J., in 1985 to play linebacker for coach Larry Smith. Chris, by the end of his sophomore season, in 1987, was an honorable-mention all-conference player for first-year coach Dick Tomey.
In 1988, the “Singletwins” combined to make more than 236 tackles — with twin totals of 118 each.
“If there was ever a couple of guys I was in awe of when I got to school, it was the Singleton twins,” said Heath Bray, who arrived as a quarterback for the 1988 season before being moved to safety. “They were the guys I wanted to be.”
Chris was a physical specimen at outside linebacker, finishing his UA career at about 240 pounds with a reported time of 4.5 seconds for 40 yards.
“He was such an all-out full-speed guy,” Tomey said. “And highly intelligent. Chris was a special player.”
But when Tomey reflects on Chris Singleton, he said he thinks more of how close he became to the twins and their family after Kevin was diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 1989. Kevin’s recovery was aided in January 1990 when he received Chris’ bone marrow in a transplant at University Medical Center in Tucson.
“It was heartbreaking to see how hard it was on Kevin and how hard it was on Chris to not have his brother with him,” Tomey said of the 1989 season.
“But when we talk about ‘Bear Down,’ that was the epitome of that spirit, and it was life and death. How they came through that was so uplifting.”
While Chris went on the NFL, Kevin returned to the UA football team in 1990.
Life after college: Singleton went to the New England Patriots with the eighth overall pick of the 1990 NFL draft, making him the second-highest Wildcat ever drafted, trailing Ricky Hunley (seventh in 1984). He started four games as a rookie and was fifth on the team in tackles in 1991, but he also battled injuries and fell out of favor with first-year Patriots coach Bill Parcells in 1993.
Singleton was released in November of that year but quickly signed with the Miami Dolphins, where he started 39 games from 1994 to 1996. With coach Jimmy Johnson pushing Singleton to take a pay cut, the Dolphins released Singleton in February 1997.
Singleton went to camp with the Chargers but was released before the season.
In partnership with the Arizona Republic, we are counting down the top 50 football players in Arizona Wildcats history. Leave your top 10 at AG’s Wildcat Report on Facebook, and check out azcentral.com for the countdown of ASU’s Top 50 football players.
Arizona’s top 50
No. 50 — LaMonte Hunley
No. 49 — Hubie Oliver
No. 48 — Rob Gronkowski
No. 47 — Jim Donarski
No. 46 — Ontiwaun Carter
No. 45 — Steve McLaughlin
No. 44 — John Fina
No. 43 — Glenn Parker
No. 42 — Bobby Lee Thompson
No. 41 — Marcus Bell
No. 40 — Fred W. Enke
No. 39 — Ka’Deem Carey
No. 38 — Juron Criner
No. 37 — Dana Wells
No. 36 — Tom Tunnicliffe
No. 35 — Bruce Hill
No. 34 — Chuck Osborne
No. 33 — Brandon Sanders
No. 32 — Sean Harris
No. 31 — Mike Thomas
No. 30 — Bobby Wade
No. 29 — T Bell
No. 28 — Joe Salave’a
No. 27 — Eddie Wilson
No. 26 — Chuck Levy
No. 25 — Allan Durden
No. 24 — Nick Foles
No. 23 — Tony Bouie
No. 22 — ‘King Kong’ Nolan
No. 21 — Bill Lueck
No. 20 — Walter “Hoss” Nielsen
No. 19 — Trung Canidate
No. 18 — Mark Arneson