Aplin working hard to be the best

Arkansas State is returning the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year in Ryan Aplin. Aplin has emerged as a fan favorite and the solid No. 1 starter for Gus Malzahn and his new coaching staff, not a surprise, what might surprise you is the work ethic of the red-senior quarterback to improve his game.

Arkansas State is returning the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year in Ryan Aplin.

Aplin has emerged as a fan favorite and the solid No. 1 starter for Gus Malzahn and his new coaching staff, not a surprise, what might surprise you is the work ethic of the red-senior quarterback to improve his game.

Aplin threw for over 3,500 yards, 3,588 to be exact. He threw 19 touchdowns leading the Red Wolves to an undefeated Sun Belt Conference campaign. The only glaring negative was the fact the talented dual threat quarterback also threw 16 interceptions.

AStateNation.com visited with new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Rhett Lashlee about Aplin's progress this past few weeks of fall camp.

"Ryan is an extremely hard worker," Lashlee said. "There have been two things we have been working on since the spring. His footwork, something that he wanted to improve and making good decisions on protecting the football. He is a playmaker and sometimes that leads to turnovers, we need to eliminate those."

Lashlee is working closely with the quarterbacks, someone who knows the Gus Malzahn offense better than anyone.

"Coach Lashlee brings so much to our position," Aplin said in an earlier interview. "He played quarterback in this system at a high level, he has coached with him at a high level. There is no one that knows this offense any better than he does."

Aplin is often known as his worst critic, thats a trait that Lashlee believes will drive his signal caller to new heights.

"He is as hard on himself as we are," Lashlee said. "That's a good thing, he is a true leader. He wants his game to be perfect and he is working extremely hard to make that a reality."

Aplin also added another 588 yards on the ground last season, scoring 10 more touchdowns. Veteran offensive line coach J.B. Grimes, who has been coaching for over 36 years paid the senior quarterback a very high compliment.

"Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks I have been around in a very long time," Grimes said in a recent radio interview. "I compare him to Reggie McNeal, a guy we had at Texas A&M. He can hurt you with his arm or his feet. It's a tremendous honor for me to coach the offensive line and protect a quarterback of his caliber."

Malzahn also agrees with his coaching staff about Aplin's abilities.

"It's great having such a competitor playing quarterback for you," Malzahn said. "He is a true leader and a winner. His team believes in him, it's easy to see why."

Aplin wants improve his game and take it the highest level.

"Protecting the football is vital in this offense," Aplin explained. "I'm working hard to be the best I can be, I know this is my last season here and I want to be at the top of my game."

Aplin has one major goal for this season.

"We have tasted victory last season, it's only made us hungrier this season," Aplin said. "I want to go out with the same feeling we had last fall, except one better. We want to win the conference championship and win our bowl game, that would be a perfect ending for my career here."

Ryan Aplin Audio Interview: