New WSU QB has jump on workouts, friendships

IT'S NO EXTRA pressure, incoming Washington State quarterback Austin Apodaca says of being dubbed by Mike Leach as the most accurate high school passer the head coach has landed in his many years on the recruiting trail. That's because "I'm always fighting like I'm the underdog," Apodaca told CF.C Tuesday in a wide-ranging conversation that included his timeline for arriving in Pullman.

"I'm always going to want to get better," Apodaca said, explaining why Leach's lofty comment is nice but not head swelling. " … I always want to earn something so as far as I'm concerned I haven't proved anything yet."

While Apodaca officially won't be a Cougar until he starts taking classes in Pullman next month, he's well into an off-season workout program designed for him by WSU coaches.

Despite playing baseball for Silver Creek High in the Denver suburb of Longmont, Apodaca hasn't missed one training day in the 13 weeks he's been doing the WSU program. "What I'm doing right now is weight training and then there's also a little bit of drill work that I've been doing," he said. "It's tough to get a good feel for what they're doing (in Pullman) because I don't have resources like a defense with me all the time."

To compensate, Apodaca said he's been doing footwork drills while throwing the types of passes commonly run in the Air Raid offense.


Last season, working out of a spread offense, the 6-3, 185-pound Apodaca earned All-State honors after airing it out for 3,849 yards. He tossed 44 TDs vs. 10 INTs and led Silver Creek to a 12-2 record and its first berth in the state title game.

SINCE VERBALLY COMMITTING to Washington State nearly a year ago, Apodaca has been in contact with most of his fellow recruits in WSU's 2012 class.

Through the power of Facebook, he and outside linebacker Jeremiah Allison of Los Angeles have become friends and plan to room together upon arrival in Pullman on June 15.

"He called me and said he wanted to room with an offensive player so it would be an offensive and defensive room," Apodaca said. "We were already pretty good friends before that from talking on Facebook and everything. He called Coach (Eric) Morris and asked if we could room together and he said ‘go for it.'"

The majority of the recruiting class plans on being in Pullman this summer for voluntary workouts and a jumpstart in the classroom, said Apodaca, who has kept in regular contact with a number of future classmates, including receiver Gabriel Marks, safety Feddie Davey and linemen Eduardo Middleton and Pierson Villarrubia.

Apodaca also has become friends with incoming WSU basketball player Brett Boese of Spokane. The two have tweeted often since both signed with the Cougs. And when Apodaca traveled to last month's Crimson and Gray Game in Spokane he hung out afterward with Boese. "It was pretty cool getting to meet a basketball recruit so we're pretty good friends now."

Before the kickoff of the Crimson and Gray Game, Apodaca had chance to talk with current Cougar quarterbacks Jeff Tuel, Connor Halliday and David Gilbertson.

Did they offer any tips for playing QB for Mike Leach?

"They obviously said he's an interesting guy," Apodaca said. "He just does it a little bit different than other coaches and that's what makes him so special at what he does. He just mixes it up while keeping it simple."

While the allure of playing for a celebrity head coach helped make his decision to stick with WSU easier after Paul Wulff was fired, Apodaca said the community itself was a strong draw.

"I love everything about Pullman. I have since I came there on my visit last June," he said. "Everything revolves around WSU in Pullman, especially with Coach Leach coming in this year in his first year -- everyone's definitely excited about Cougar football and I can't wait to be a part of that excitement."

Crimson-colored travel agent Linda Finch has put together all-inclusive travel packages from Dallas and Houston to Pullman to get Mike Leach fans -- both of the Cougar and Red Raider variety -- up to the Palouse for the first home game of the Leach Era, on Sept. 7. The packages include airfare, tickets to see the Cougars vs. EWU, two nights' accommodations at the Northern Quest Casino, a party bus between Spokane and Pullman, and a tailgater in Pullman. For more information, call Linda toll free at 1-800-682-2251.

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