Offensive lineman Zack Singer could’ve participated in senior night ceremonies last season, but he would have none of it.
He was determined to come back for another UNLV football season, even if the NCAA hadn’t weighed in yet on whether to approve an additional year.
But this is a player who suffered injuries in 2015, 2017 and 2018, limiting him to 18 games over three seasons after transferring from Kent State.
“I love football, the bottom line,” Singer said. “When your love for the game never wavers, there’s no hesitation, there’s no question whether I want to keep coming back out here. It’s very simple.”
Singer (6 feet 2 inches, 320 pounds) is going through spring practices at Rebel Park waiting for the NCAA to decide on whether he will get that additional season. Coach Tony Sanchez said he thought Singer had a good case.
“He’s got some resiliency, that’s for sure. He’s a tough son of a gun. When it’s all said and done, it will feel like he didn’t play six, but 12 years,” Sanchez said with a smile. “Zack’s a tough kid. He embodies everything we try to get done here.”
Singer is working at second-team left guard behind junior Matt Brayton (6-3, 310). If Singer is ruled eligible to play next season, he brings the experience of four starts, including three at center.
It’s that versatility to be able to play the three interior spots that Sanchez said plays in his favor.
“It’s great having him as a utility guy,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got 10 guys up front that have started a game before. That makes a big difference.”
Singer, who played for Sanchez at Bishop Gorman High School, didn’t play in 2015 under NCAA transfer rules. Even if ruled eligible to play immediately, he couldn’t have after tearing up his right knee and leg in training camp.
He came back the following season to appear in nine games, but then suffered a season-ending ankle injury after starting the first three games in 2017.
Then came last season in which Singer started the opener and played in five other games, but missed half the season with an another ankle injury.
“I got a little lucky, and this may sound weird, but my first injury was my worst injury of my career and therefore was the hardest to come back from,” Singer said. “It really took me two years to come back from it, so everything else is easy compared to that.
“I completely blew my knee out and broke my leg the first fall camp I was here, and the doctors told me I would never play again. So going through something like that built my resiliency up to a level to where really there’s no other injury I can face that’s going to stop me from coming back.”
Participating in senior night last season wouldn’t have felt right for the player who has overcome so much. He wants a true final season playing every game and making a difference.
Now it’s up to the NCAA whether Singer will get it.
“My plan was to get my sixth year,” he said. “I’m in the process still, and that was the goal all along.
”That was what I wanted from the very beginning when I knew there was an opportunity.”