Apke Gives Details on Commitment

The four-star wide receiver talks about why he decided to pick Penn State relatively early in the recruiting process.

Before Troy Apke picked up a verbal scholarship offer from Penn State on Feb. 23, he stood inside an empty, cavernous Beaver Stadium, awed by its mammoth emptiness.

He called that visit good, the University Park facilities the same. Now, he'll call himself a Nittany Lion.

Apke became the fourth player to verbally commit to Penn State's Class of 2014 Saturday, and the Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh, Pa.) wide-receiver joins Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.) linebacker Troy Reeder, Fairfax (Va.) High running back Nicholas Scott, and DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) back Mark Allen.

“I just thought Penn State was the right fit for me,” Apke said Monday after the commitment had sunk in. “I thought about if anyone else offered me, and I couldn't think of anyone else I'd want to play for. It was just time to commit to Penn State.”

The FOX Sports NEXT four-star receiver hauled in 54 catches for 1,038 yards and 13 touchdowns during his junior season in the pass friendly offense of new Mount Lebanon head coach Mike Melnyk. And his profile only grew from there.

Yet, he said that Penn State was always at the top of his list, which might come as a surprise to some. However, he thinks there is no question that Lion leader Bill O'Brien was surprised by his commitment following the Lions' 12th spring practice. And that made it all the sweeter.

“I guess Penn State was always my top school, and when I went to Junior Day, it kind of put it on top, I guess,” he explained. “I started thinking about it [committing] two weeks before I went up, and decided three days before Saturday and told my parents. I don't think Coach O'Brien was expecting it, either.”

Apke will not be able to attend Saturday's Blue-White Game at Beaver Stadium because he is participating in a track meet. The receiver is running short-distance sprints this spring, and believes it is helping him on the football field.

And it's not just with his speed, either. Apke has noted fundamental gains that can only help his 4.43 40 time. And while he's lost some weight -- he's down from 187 pounds to 185 since track started -- it's nothing he can't gain back, while the gains are something he's not willing to give back.

“My endurance is probably getting a lot better,” he said. “And I think my form for running is getting a lot better. I think track will help me increase my speed.”

It can't be understated how important the junior's second visit to University Park was for Penn State's Junior Day. It was there that Apke says he “learned what they are all about,” and gained a better understanding for the way the school operates, as well.

“Even with the sanctions, if you work hard, they don't bother you,” Apke said in early March. “I went to the camp there [last June] and then they brought me in on the visit and said they could use me, and that I have good speed. I wasn't expecting it at all.

“I like how it was a whole family atmosphere up there, and that the sanctions kind of brought them closer. I think it would be a good experience to play for them.”

He won't overtly recruit other prospects to Penn State, will be happy to talk to any prospects who reach out to him.

“I'm probably going to let others make their decision like I made mine,” Apke said. “I'll let them make their own decision. But if I see them, I'll let them know they should come here.

It's a long time until February 2014, when Apke can sign his letter of intent. He said he plans to visit Penn State again this spring or summer, and if not, certainly this fall when the Lions return to the field for their 2013 season.

In the meantime, he'll savor what he likes best about Happy Valley.

“I guess [what I like most] is the whole atmosphere at Penn State,” Apke said. “I like the way their games have an atmosphere, and all their fans are all into it. The student section fans are crazy, and Penn State is like a whole family.

“It's not like a city,” he added. “It's a football town.”

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