Nick Singleton can’t escape the limelight these days, even if he tries.
Singleton, a former Gov. Mifflin star and freshman, has handled the national attention well, according to Penn State football coach James Franklin.
“I think it’s a little bit of his personality,” Franklin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “He’s very steady Eddie. It doesn’t get too high. It doesn’t sink too low. That’s how he was raised by his family and the program he came from, Governor Mifflin. They prepared him very well for that too.”
Singleton has rushed 30 times for 334 yards and four touchdowns in his first three games for No. 14 Penn State (3-0), which faces Central Michigan (1-2) at noon Saturday (TV-BTN) at Beaver Stadium.
He leads the Football Bowl unit with 11.1 yards per carry and ranks 12th in rushing yards per game (111.3). Only Larry Johnson, who had 362 yards in 2002, had more yards in the first three games of a season for Penn State since 2000.
Singleton carried 10 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the Nittany Lions’ 41-12 win at Auburn.
He became the first Pennsylvania player since Saquon Barkley in 2015 to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice. Additionally, longtime ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit selected him as the second-best player of the weekend behind Washington quarterback Michael Penix.
“The players (his teammates) give him a hard time because after he scores a touchdown, they say he has no swag,” Franklin said. “He is not a braggart, but a complete being. They like to give him a hard time, but it doesn’t faze him. We counted. I think he’s said 17 words since he’s been at Penn State.”
Wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith threw a penalty block to help free Singleton on a 54-yard touchdown run early in Auburn’s fourth quarter.
“From the first day I met him, Nick was very humble,” Lambert-Smith said Tuesday. “He came in with hype as a five-star and the No. 1 (recruit) in the country. He doesn’t talk much. He always keeps his head down and works.
“I have nothing but respect for him.”
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Senior offensive lineman Bryce Effner said Singleton and fellow freshman Kaitron Allen have made a quick impact on the line, the offense and the Lions as a whole with their performances so far.
Neither Singleton nor Allen were available for interviews because Penn State does not allow freshmen to do them.
“Simply put, they just brought energy,” Effner said. “When you have young guys like Caitron and Nick, they’re getting their first taste of the energy of the stadium, the fans and what Penn State football is all about. It’s incredible.
“To see young guys (like them) feel it like that, it, it, it’s really something beautiful. It’s something to see. I love it. It’s probably one of the best feelings you get as an older guy, knowing that the younger guys are having a great time. It’s wonderful.”
Allen rushed 23 times for 106 yards and four touchdowns, including a career-high 59 yards and two TDs against Auburn. Nicknamed “Fat Man,” he’s lost about 15 pounds since arriving on campus in January.
“He has less and less of his nickname,” Franklin said. “He’s probably changed his body as much as anyone in our program. He looks different physically. He is faster. He is faster. He is more explosive. Now he is playing confident, very good football.
“He is thriving in many ways. He is kind of quiet and not the most expressive guy. He begins to break out of his shell. I’m very proud of him”