Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman caught up with former Silver Creek quarterback Austin Apocada to discuss his college career, his CFL opportunity with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and more.
Q: Heading into the Blue Bombers’ first preseason game this Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, what does this opportunity mean to you?
A: It’s everything, because not a lot of people get the chance to play professional football, and that’s my job right now. I’m going to put everything I have into this because the game doesn’t last forever, and that’s one thing I’ve learned just in my short time up here. This game can end for you at anytime and any moment through cuts, or injuries, or whatever that may be. So I’m just focused on taking things one minute at a time and enjoying every moment I come across.
Q: What did you learn from your college journey that started at Washington State, had a pit stop at Mesa Community College (Ariz.) and then finished at the University of New Mexico?
A: It was an interesting college career for me, and I’d be lying to you if I said that’s what I thought it would look like. But the ups and downs of that career have prepared me for where I’m at now. Going to Washington State and playing in a Power 5 conference was awesome, but then leaving there and not being certain of where I was going to be was a bit of adversity.
I went to the JuCo for only one semester just so I could try to get back to the Division I ranks, and then I went to New Mexico where I wasn’t the perfect fit for their triple-option scheme. But the whole journey itself has taught me a lot, because now I don’t worry about the outcome so much, but more about the process.
Q: How hard was it to make those offensive changes throughout college?
A: At Washington State, we threw it 60, 70 times a game, and then I went to New Mexico and we threw it maybe 10 times a game. I obviously would have liked to throw it way more and play in an offense that was more fitting to my style, but what that did was make me understand the game better as a whole.
I learned different coverages and different personnel from being in so many different offenses under so many different coaches, and I learned that that I could run the ball better than expected because it was something I had never really done before. And right now in Winnipeg, the offense is a combination of everything I’ve played — there’s some air-raid concepts and some zone-read concepts that I learned while running the triple-option.
Q: How did playing for your dad, Mike Apodaca — who’s still the head football and baseball coach at Silver Creek — shape you as a quarterback?
A: That shaped me a lot, because I always had a high standard for myself, and my dad always had a high standard for me. Not so much performance wise, but in the sense of how to act on the field and how to act off the field. As the coach’s son, you’re bound to be in the spotlight a little bit more, so I was always trying to work my hardest to set the example for other guys and to gain people’s respect to show them I was more than just the coach’s son, and that I deserved to be on the field. That sort of mentality has followed me throughout my career, including up here to Canada.