Through intense workouts, dedication in the classroom and surrounding himself with good influences, Apo is all but set to take his prospects to the next level where his potential is basically through the roof. For Apo though, it took a little time for him to realize just how good he could be and subsequently push himself to reach his potential.
Summer of 2007
Apo first came onto the scene during BYU's padded camp during the summer of 2007. He knew very little about BYU at the time, but joined with Teu Kautai and his father in attending the camp based on their recommendation.
What Apo also didn't know much about at the time was how good his potential was as a football player. Apo was just 15 years old at the time, and after slugging through his freshman year at run-happy Euless Trinity, he had yet to see the field of play much. Thus, he hadn't had much opportunity to prove to not only college recruiters, but to himself, just how good his prospects were.
"They started me out with the younger group, but that didn't last long," related Apo about BYU's camp. "They immediately put me up there working out with the guys that were going to be juniors and seniors and I stayed there for the rest of the camp."
Indeed, Apo stuck out like a sore thumb among the hordes of players attending the camp. His potential was very obvious to everyone in attendance, especially when considering that he was merely 15 years of age at the time.
Prior to Apo's first camp experience, Teu Kautai and others that knew him back home gave him a nickname. After a couple of days performing at BYU's camp, that nickname became widely circulated and has stayed with him until this day.
"Randy Ross is the name Teu and others back home called me sometimes," explained Apo, who holds a lot of athletic similarities to the great Randy Moss. "But at BYU's camp everyone started calling me that and I like that. I still like it."
Drawing comparisons to one of the most physically gifted receivers of all time is indeed some of the highest praise one could receive, but Apo was just having fun with it and had yet to realize how relevant those comparisons were.
"I was just having a lot of fun," explained Apo of his camp experience. "I just completely loved being there, working out, making friends, and I really grew to love BYU. It was probably the coaches more than anything. I really grew to love BYU's coaches during the camp and that's stuck with me to this day. I love the coaches they have there."
It wasn't long after his camp performance that Apo received his first verbal offer, which was proffered by the Cougar coaching staff.
"That was unreal to me at the time," said Apo about his BYU offer. "To have someone offer me a full-ride scholarship was something that was amazing to me and I've always appreciated that BYU was the first to recognize me and to believe in me."
Progress to be Made
While Apo's potential was obvious, there were still a whole bunch of things he needed to work on to become not only a prime college prospect but even someone eligible to enroll in a Division I program.
"I had some work to make up and there were a lot of questions about my eligibility," recalled Apo about his academic status back in 2007.
Apo had been attending Euless Trinity, but was set to transfer to The Oakridge School. The hope was that at Oakridge, a private school, he would focus more on his academics so he could become and stay eligible to play Division I football.
"At Trinity it was just about playing football," said Apo. "They didn't care much about academics and I fell behind a bit. It's completely different now at Oakridge. It's all about academics here."
Apo caught up on his class work and then some. He is well on his way to graduating early and joining the BYU football program in January, where he'll be able to compete in the spring leading up to his true-freshman year in hopes of contributing immediately during the 2010 season.
Need for Speed
Along with improving his academics, Apo also set out hard to work on honing his athletic skills. His initial offer from BYU led Apo and his family to firmly realize just how much potential he had, and they set out immediately to realize that potential.
Apo hit the weights, the treadmill and everything else involved in making his athletic progress match his academic progress. But even after all that hard work, Apo was still struggling to even break a 4.7 forty time. That was a decent time for someone of his size and stature, but not close to what he envisioned.
To improve upon that and help develop his speed, Apo solicited the services of former Olympic track star Jon Drummond. Apo started attended Drummond's rigorous workouts three months ago with close friends Kautai and Tayo Fabuluje, and the results have been nothing short of staggering.
Drummond's workouts focus on the use of what Apo describes as ‘power-runner machines.' They're machines that measure the amount of pressure of each rep that is given and increase that pressure more and more as the workout goes on.
"It's brutal," explained Apo about the workout. "If you don't increase the pressure with every rep, it doesn't count. You have to do a certain amount of reps and each of those reps has to increase in pressure or Jon will yell at you, make you do pushups, and yeah, he really makes us work."
Apo, Kautai and Fabuluje attend Drummond's workouts three days a week for about 90 minutes. They have all seen quite dramatic results from the workouts.
"We've all increased our forty times by at least .2 seconds," explained Apo. "I went from a 4.7 to a 4.41 in just three months."
Through seeing such dramatic results, Apo and his teammates have become very dedicated despite how difficult and draining the workouts can be. Apo currently refuses to miss any amount of time working out with Drummond, recently declining an invitation from his good friend Jake Heaps to go out to Washington and stay with his family for even a week.
"I won't do anything or go anywhere that will make me miss more than a day of my workouts," stated Apo. "I owe it to myself, but more importantly I owe it to my teammates at Oakridge and my future teammates at BYU, the coaches and everyone to make sure I'm doing everything possible to be the best I can be. If I don't, then I'm not living up to the commitments I've made in my mind."
Putting on a Show
Despite the fact that Apo has only recently begun to cut down dramatically on his forty time, he still was being courted early and often by most of the Big 12 programs and even a few SEC schools and others. Most prominently, Texas offered Apo after seeing his great potential that he had only begun to realize at the time.
But although his potential was obvious, Apo had yet to show publicly what he was really capable of athletically until this summer's Nike combine at Stanford.
"I put on a show there, to be sure," said Apo.
Indeed, it was there that all his training became relevant and he was one of the most – if not the most – dominating receiver prospects at the entire camp, earning himself MVP honors.
"I wasn't even as fast then as I am now, but I didn't feel that anyone could guard me," said Apo about going up against some of the top national competition at the Stanford combine. "I could beat guys by my speed, my height, my leaping ability, but most of all it was my route-running that gave me the most advantage. Up to that point, that was the area of my game that I'd been working on most."
Apo also had the opportunity to work out with Heaps during the Stanford camp after previously corresponding with him over the phone. Apo caught a lot of passes from Heaps during the camp and immediately came to realize that he was exactly the type of quarterback he'd want delivering him the football in college.
"Jake wasn't committed to BYU at the time, but I was committed to Texas," recalled Apo. "Even though I was committed I never [forgot] about BYU and I knew Jake was considering BYU, so it just sort of worked out in the end. I guess as we both grew in our interest to BYU up until the time we both decided to commit."
Although Heaps played a big role in Apo's decision to de-commit from Texas and commit to BYU, it wasn't the biggest reason in Apo's mind.
"I think it was the coaches more than anything," explained Apo regarding his commitment to BYU. "They kept on me even after I committed to Texas. They were always positive and respectful with everything I did and I really appreciated that."
BYU being the first school to give him a chance by offering him a scholarship played a huge factor as well in Apo's mind.
"They were the first ones to believe in me and my potential, even when it looked as if I'd have problems qualifying," related Apo. "That was a big thing in my mind. They've always been there supporting me throughout on not just football, but everything, and that tells me that they have my well-being and my growth as a person well in mind. That's the type of place and program you want to be a part of."
In the meantime, Apo aims to remain unsatisfied with whatever progress he's made on and off the football field while pushing himself as hard as possible to realize his potential.
"Right now it's focusing on this coming season for Oakridge," summed up Apo. "In doing that, I'm preparing myself in every way possible to be the best I can be when I show up and start attending classes at BYU in January. That's what I owe them. That's what I owe everyone who believed in me. It's my goal to be the best college football player I can possibly be. I'm not even thinking about the NFL or anything else. Right now it's all about BYU and helping out their football program as much as I can."