Ross Apo's college career has not been the one he hoped for. Nor has it been what the coaches and fans were expecting.
Apo had an outstanding prep career, leaving Arlington, Texas ranked No. 13 among the nation's wide receivers by Rivals.com. He completed his three years at The Oakridge School with 2000 receiving yards - averaging 19.1 yards per catch - and 22 touch downs.
But plagued with injuries, the last four years have told a different story. Apo's first season as a cougar ended with a medical redshirt after suffering an open dislocation of his left index finger. If that seems like a rather minor injury, do a quick image search online and you will understand why it was so serious. Then in the offseason of 2012 he had surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.
The 2013 season saw different difficulties for Apo. One was named Cody Hoffman, the best receiver in Cougar history. Another was Taysom Hill and the running game. Neither would provide Apo with the opportunities he was looking for, although he finished the season with 14 receptions, including a 52-yard haul against Virginia, and 3 touchdowns.
He was also named to the inaugural Earl Campbell watchlist - an award for the top offensive player in the country hailing from the great state of Texas.
That was 2013.
Now, as a new season is about to begin, the question is how will the seemingly healthy senior receiver perform in the absence of Cody Hoffman, Skyler Ridley and J.D. Falslev? I believe that depends on three factors.
Is he healthy? Is Apo ready and able to play at 100%? If the offseason rehab has been successful, then I have to agree with Samuel Benson of the Bleacher Report who said, "If he is fully healthy, there is no doubt that he has the talent to lead BYU in receiving."
Is he confident? Injuries have a way of messing with your confidence. So does sitting in the back seat. Apo needs to put it all behind him, and be stronger for it. A healthy and confident Ross Apo is a valuable weapon for the Cougar offense, and a danger to any defense.
Can he make the plays in the middle? Apo has proven his ability to make big catches on the outside. He has yet to show us that same ability in the middle. It could be blamed on the play calling. Or, it could be a result of the Cougars recent propensity to run the ball. Whatever the reason, if Apo wants to make big plays, on a consistent basis, he needs to be able to do so in the middle. It worked for Hoffman and Collie, and it will work for Apo, if he makes it work.
And he will need to work for it, because Mitch Mathews also wants the ball, and is an equally talented receiver.
Joining Apo and Mathews on the receiving team are JC transfers Nick Kurtz and Devon Blackmon, UTEP transfer Jordan Leslie, and incoming freshman Trey Dye.