Safety Troy Apke got just one year to prove his worth to Penn State football. He did more than that quietly making big-time plays.
The big names get all the press in college football. One year starters can typically get lost in the shuffle, especially when the player across from you is four-year starter like Marcus Allen. Penn State football starting safety Troy Apke likely knows this all to well. Although he played solid all year and aided a secondary that lost John Reid before the season started, he didn’t get major recognition.
In his 12 games as a starter he recorded 52 total tackles, good enough for fourth on the team. He didn’t let many big plays up on the back-end either deflecting five passes and breaking up five others. Apke gained a reputation of productive special teams play blocking a punt in 2015 and recording 13 special team’s tackles prior to his starting career (Video Courtesy of Nittany Nation).
As much as his career in special teams deserves mention, his remaining 95 career tackles came on defense. He doesn’t carry the same rep as Allen in the secondary, but he can headhunt and make the every down plays. As a safety, he was the last line of defense and rarely did any traffic get behind him. Penn State’s elite defense relied on him to keep everything in front and it worked.
Apke fortified a defense that allowed just 12 touchdown passes and forced 10 interceptions. In addition, the defense allowed just a 57.9 completion percentage and just 210.2 yards per game in the air.
However, his most important attribute is causing big plays just like the blocked field goal, above, against Iowa. If he didn’t make that play then Juwan Johnson’s game-winning touchdown doesn’t happen. His play gets lost in everything because Johnson made the play that sealed the win. He deserves that praise and so does Apke. His bowl game performance could put him in even greater standing if he shuts down the Huskies’ passing game.