Apo is facing forward

Cougar wide receiver Ross Apo is excited about next week. He'll be meeting up with his family down in San Diego, where he and his teammates look to have a week-long worth of fun and then finish up the 2012 victory over the Aztecs, all with an eye looking forward to next season.

Well, this is it. The end of the 2012 season is about here, and the 7-5 Cougars will face 9-3 San Diego State next Thursday.

"The season has gone by fast and much faster this year than it seems it did last season," said Apo. "It just seems like we just played Washington State just yesterday. Now we're getting ready to head on down to San Diego to play a bowl game."

With BYU about to hit the road to sunny Southern California, there is a bit of excitement in the air around the Cougar locker room.

"Last year we went to Dallas, Texas to play Tulsa, and that was a lot of fun going back home to play," Apo said. "Every bowl game experience is different because of the different places we've been and teams we've played. Then the year before that we went down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to play UTEP, so I'm actually really excited about heading down to San Diego, California for our next bowl game. I think a lot of us are."

Apo is excited for the various attractions he'll get to enjoy down in San Diego.

"It's going to be a lot of fun going down to California this time around because I'll be going to the beach," Apo said, smiling from ear to ear. "I want to check out the beach. We'll be having some down time with our families while we're there, so I think I'm going to try and find a beach.

"I think we're also going to go visit Sea World and the San Diego Zoo, but that will be with the team. It's going to be a good trip."

Along with the various activities, what makes a bowl game much different than normal road games is the fact the entire team travels together.

"The whole team comes along and is there rather than just the guys that are picked to travel, so that's something that's kind of fun and different about playing in bowl games," Apo said. "The entire team is there, and we do different competitions against the other team, and they take us out and we do all the gifts. It's just a much different experience than an away game, because your whole family is there with you for an entire week. It's just a lot of fun."

In reflecting over the season, the Cougars may not have met expectations many fans had for a team with so many experienced seniors. But, Apo does believe there were some good things that did come out of this season.

"We found Jamaal!" Apo said with a chuckle. "He didn't get as many carries at the beginning of the season, but after Mike [Alisa] broke his arm during the Hawaii game, that changed. Jamaal came in and ever since then he's just been all over the field.

"You know, when I think you lose, you find things about yourself that you didn't know. Last year we won quite a few games last year and this year we lost, but this year when we lost we learned more about ourselves. You never want to lose, but there are some good things that we did discover about our team this year that I think will help us for next season."

Apo has high hopes for next season.

"I think next year we'll be able to run our passing offense the way we want to, you know," said Apo. "Everyone knows that Riley [Nelson] is not going to make that 70-yard bomb down the field. He's a playmaker, but sometimes we're limited on some of the play calling, which fine because Riley was good at those plays and that's what he does.

"But next year is going to be fun having Taysom [Hill] back there. Obviously, you've seen how fast he was when he ran that 70-yard touchdown earlier in the season. I think next year is going to be a very fun year having a guy like Taysom that can thrown it downfield and run."

The downfield passing potential that Hill will bring to the offense next year brings a smile to Apo's face.

"Yeah, definitely because it's always good to be able to stretch the defense out a little bit," he said. "That's kind of what I do is stretch the field and try and give our offense that deep threat downfield. It's always nice to have that aspect in your offense because it can open some things up more, like our running game. You know, we're going to have two great backs next year in Mike and Jamaal. I think as many times we can throw the ball successfully down the field, it will just open things up even more for us."

To some extent, Apo's career so far has mirrored backup quarterback James Lark's career. Like Lark, Apo has been a loyal soldier with a lot of ability, while not being able to bring his talents to bear.

"I don't think you should play any differently, and I don't think it would do me any good to complain," said Apo. "It wouldn't do me any good if I do things differently other than play as hard as I can, support my teammates and prepare for future opportunities.

"My dad will always call me and ask me how I'm doing, and before we got off the phone he'll always say, ‘You better keep working hard. If I see you slacking or anything, me and you are going to have a talk.' I just want to work hard. They brought me here to play football and not to complain about bad balls or not getting the ball at all. So, you know, I just come to work every day to work."

While Apo will be back next year, his teammate and best friend Cody Hoffman may not.

"I don't know if he's coming back or not, and he hasn't said much to me about it," said Apo. "I hope he stays because he's a good guy, such a good player and he's one of my best friends. It would be good to have him here another year."

Maybe Apo can try some creative persuasion to get Hoffman to return to BYU for one more exciting year.

"I don't know if I'll make him dinner or anything like that," Apo said while laughing. "But maybe I can introduce him to some girls around here. Maybe that will make him want to stay longer. Hopefully he does stay because he's a great player and great friend. It would be great to have him here with us for one more year."

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