I have covered or been a part of college football for over 10 years, this by far has been the most impressed I have been ever by a group of young men.
In last year’s GoDaddy.com Bowl, I got to witness a junior quarterback enter the press conference, looking like he had been through an 18 round fight and lost.
His face was battered, his eyes were swollen from tears of defeat.
That was 2012, what a difference a year can make.
In 2013 that same quarterback, Ryan Aplin, now a senior, entered the same GoDaddy.com Bowl Press Conference, this year there was a major difference.
While there were still tears in this young warriors eyes, they were tears of victory and joy.
This is a quarterback that has been through three different Head Football coaches in three years.
This is a quarterback that has won back to back Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors despite of the coaching changes that have occurred the last three years.
No matter what you threw at him, he dodged it and became a better man because of it.
That’s the reason this young man became such the leader of this team.
A young man of humility.
Always giving credit to others while taking all of the blame for himself.
Not once did he blame or fault three different head coaches for either leaving him for another job or leaving for other reasons.
Aplin always took things in stride and made the best of every situation that he faced.
He even thanked the Head Football Coach that gave him his only college football offer, Steve Roberts, giving him praise for bringing him to Arkansas State.
One time during his junior season he was questioned if anything was wrong because his interception rate was higher than it had been before.
Instead of making excuses, Aplin just let the question bounce off his broad shoulders and made him work that much harder to improve that issue his senior season.
He never once faltered his offensive linemen for lack of protection or his wide receivers for a dropped ball, he always took the blunt of the blame.
That’s why Aplin has become the champion he has become over the last two years.
While some may credit coaches for this team’s successes over the last two seasons, lets realize that there is one common denominator in this team successes, and that’s the players on this ASU Football team.
Two completely different coaching staffs the last two seasons but the same 10-3 record.
Aplin isn’t the only senior that led this team to its successes, there are many others.
Nate Herrold the leader of this improved defensive unit.
Don Jones, one of the best athletes on the team.
Tim Starson one of the most improved players from last year until this season.
Don’t forget Kedric Murray, Anthony Kincy and Andre Smith were some of the hardest working guys in the trenches on this team.
Speaking of hard work in the trenches you can’t forget Zach McKnight and Kevin Galindo.
Aplin would not be Aplin without his talented receiving corp, which includes seniors Taylor Stockemer, and Josh Jarboe.
Senior defensive backs Chaz Scales has been a great leader and teacher to the younger players on this team.
How many times was Cole Lorgian’s name called in tonight’s game? The senior safety made play after play.
And lets not forget Tausean Holmes.
This is a young man that was told he would never play another down of football because of a neck injury, but fought the odds and made this team better this season.
Ronnell Wright overcame the odds and made a major contribution as well.
Two other seniors that will be missed are specialist and punters Ryan Wilbourn and Neely Sullivent.
This is a team of champions.
?In fact Back to Back Sun Belt Conference Champions.
And now champions of the GoDaddy.com Bowl 2013.
A honor that slipped away from them last year, but couldn’t escape their grasp this season.
I think speak for all of AStateNation on how proud we are of all of these young men.
While this senior class made a huge contribution to this team’s success the last two seasons, the youth of this team is also the bright shining star for every Arkansas State Fan’s hope for the future.
There is no doubt the future of Arkansas State Football is very bright, it’s a great day to be a Red Wolf and a member of AStateNation!
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