After being committed to Washington State for nine months, it didn’t feel like the correct decision for the high school quarterback to take a visit to New Mexico and see what the Lobos had to offer.
Apodaca stuck with his original decision and went to WSU, playing sparingly in his two years as a Cougar. He decided to leave WSU in search of more playing time and went the junior college route, transferring to Mesa Community College last year.
The moment Apodaca stepped onto MCC’s campus last August, there was a scholarship offer from UNM. The junior signal-caller took the Lobos’ offer and is now playing spring ball, trying to capture the starting quarterback position.
“That’s funny, because I really wanted to take a visit here (UNM) when they came late. I was just so committed to Washington State and it just didn’t feel right,” he said. “It comes full circle sometimes in life, and I think that may be the case here. I’m here the second time around and it might be meant to be, and I think it is.”
Apodaca played just three games in his redshirt freshman campaign at WSU. He did get the chance to play one of the best teams in the nation that year in No. 5 Stanford, a game nationally televised on ESPN.
“It was great experience learning under coach (Mike) Leach and all the coaches over there,” he said. “Playing in the Pac-12 was an awesome opportunity.”
Apodaca then found a home at Mesa Community College, where he started all 10 games last season. He completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 2,534 yards and threw 27 touchdowns with just nine interceptions.
“I really wanted to get back to Division I football at the highest level I could, and that was my goal from the beginning,” he said. “Ultimately, making that decision to go JUCO (junior college) was about getting to a place that I could play and get experience.”
One main concern about Apodaca is how well he will adapt to the triple option offense. At Washington State Apodaca ran the Air Raid offense, which focuses mostly on throwing the football.
However, Apodaca said he’s had some experience with the option in the past. At Silver Creek High School, Apodaca ran some zone read and pistol plays. Last season at Mesa Community College, the team did run some triple option, but not as advanced as UNM.
Apodaca said the hardest part about the triple option is just making the right reads and not making the same mistake twice.
“I’m definitely getting more comfortable with the offense day-to-day,” he said. “The UNM triple is obviously different than any other thing that I’ve played in. I feel like I fit it pretty well so far.”
One of the main reasons Apodaca came to UNM was to have shot at the starting quarterback position. Redshirt freshman signal-caller Lamar Jordan may have the edge in experience on the offense, but Apodaca said he thinks he does have legitimate shot at earning the job.
“Obviously, everyone does. Everyone at that position has that desire. I think they would be a liar if they didn’t want to be the starting quarterback,” Apodaca said. “I don’t worry about it at all. I just get the best reps that I can in there.”
Thomas Romero-Salas is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ThomasRomeroS.