Apodaca names finalists

Austin Apodaca is nearing his decision on his next college destination and Vanderbilt is the current co-front-runner with New Mexico. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback just competed his sophomore season at Mesa (Ariz.) Community College where he threw for more than 2500 yards and 27 touchdowns. He spoke with VandyMania.com on his official visit to Nashville.

"My two finalists are Vanderbilt and New Mexico," Apodaca said. "I had a great visit to Vanderbilt the weekend of December 5th. I got in town that Friday with my dad and we got to meet with Coach Mason. On Saturday I met with the Undergraduate Dean of Admissions and learned a lot of good stuff about the school itself and academics. It was my first time in Nashville and I loved it, great city. We went all over the West End and then to downtown Saturday night and had really an awesome time. My player host was Davis Dudchock, a tight end who played in the Pac-12 at Stanford before transferring to Vanderbilt, which is something I'm considering doing as well.

"Fortunately, I got to catch quite a few Vanderbilt games on ESPN this season and got to see what they were doing offensively. I know that's going to be changing a little with the departure of Karl Dorrell. Next year they'll have a different look but I'm impressed what I see from a personnel standpoint with their talent. I think a lot of Coach Mason too. He's someone who I'd love to play for, a real player's coach. I think he relishes the role of being an underdog in the SEC and is working bring in the right players and coaches to get the program winning again. I can relate to the role of the underdog working to get back up again."

Out of Silver Creek High School in Longmont, Colo., Apodaca went to Washington State in Class of 2012 to play for Mike Leach. After a redshirt season as a true freshman, he backed up Connor Halliday in year number two in Pullman. He decided he needed a fresh start at Mesa for Coach Ryan Felker.

"I think I had an incredible experience playing at Mesa," he said. "It helped me to know the role of being 'the guy' at quarterback instead of being in a reserve role. It was a good season. We had a ton of injuries though a key positions like left tackle, wide receiver, and on the defense. As players kept going down we became a younger team and I feel like that helped me to develop more as a leader on the field.

"I'm going to be a mid-year guy if I go to Vanderbilt or if I go to New Mexico. I'm going to be driving back home to Colorado so I can be with my family when I sign. I'll probably be deciding between the two by the end of the week, possibly late Thursday evening. A lot of my decision will be based on how much I feel I'm needed there. Since both schools have offered obviously I'm needed, but I want to know how big of a priority I am. I'd like to go to a team that needs my help on the field, where I can come in and make a positive impact. I'm also going to take a look at how comfortable I was at the school. I'll be looking at a few things because I want to make the perfect decision."

Apodaca was a three-year starter at Silver Creek High School where he played for his father who has been head coach for 13 years. In his sophomore season with Mesa, Apodaca was 233 for 394 with a 59.1 completion percentage with 27 touchdowns to nine inceptions.

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