BYU receiver Ross Apo will walk out onto the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday and experience a rush of memories and emotions.
A senior, Apo will get one more opportunity to play on one of his home state’s biggest stages. He will recall his high school days while at Arlington Oakridge and search for his family members and friends in the stands.
And finally, Apo will feel confidence in his shoulder.
“I feel way better than I have in the past two seasons, when my shoulder was loose and out of whack,” said Apo, who battled injuries his first four years at BYU. “It’s good to know that I can take a hit on that shoulder and be OK.”
Apo struggled with his shoulder injury last season but had one of his biggest games in Texas when BYU topped Houston 47-46 at Reliant Stadium. Apo finished with four catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns. He’s hoping for another successful trip home this season.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Apo said. “It’s a big deal to me to go back to Texas, back home. It’ll be an easy trip for my family to come see me play. There’s nothing like going home and playing in front of that crowd again, a lot of the people you played in front of growing up.”
Apo, rated the No. 13 receiver coming out of high school by Rivals.com, was forced to take a medical redshirt year as a freshman in 2010 after a dislocation of his left index finger. After two shoulder surgeries, Apo had another tough break before his junior season even started.
“I dove for a pass in practice, came down at an awkward angle, and it popped out the screws and anchors in my shoulder,” said Apo, who had shown promise with 34 catches for 453 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. “So I started the 2013 season fresh off an injury. I wore down over the course of the season to the point where I couldn’t even go into games by the end of last year.”
Apo saw a specialist and had a bone from a cadaver and two screws put into his shoulder in the off-season.
“These past few years, it’s been hard playing with a hurt body,” said Apo, who still has some occasional soreness and pain. “I’ve worked hard to get my strength back, and I feel like I’m back to normal.”
Last season, BYU crushed Texas with a dominant ground game (550 yards rushing) led by quarterback Taysom Hill, who ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns. This year, Hill and the Cougars are more balanced but can still run wild.
“With the guys we have who can run the ball, teams are going to come up to stop them,” Apo said. “Then we have depth at the receiver spot, and we can run past guys. Dual threat. You have to pick what to try to stop. I’m just focused on doing whatever I can to help my team win.”
Games to watch
109,000Reported seating capacity at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field this season (82,600 last year). Renovations, which won’t be finalized until the start of the 2015 season, will make Kyle Field the largest stadium in Texas as well as the Southeastern Conference at 102,512, but this year the total number will be significantly more. A&M will play its first game in the partially renovated stadium on Saturday against Lamar.
5Straight seasons with a win against an FBS team for FCS North Dakota State after the Bison upset Iowa State 34-14 last week.
Tweet of the week
“So honored. All Family, All Friends, All Teammates & Baylor Nation #ThisIsForUS.” – Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) tweeted that message along with a photo of himself standing next to his new statue outside Baylor’s new McLane Stadium. The Bears honored Griffin with a ceremony before playing the first game in their new home Sunday.
Rising, falling, holding steady
Power 5 grades