We are a week into summer ball for the Arizona Football program and so far so good! Time to start getting to know some of our Freshman.
The entire Arizona Football team is in Tucson for the summer and reports from players are positive. We heard from Tyrell Aponte, a class of 2017 preferred walk-on who is working hard to be the best offensive lineman he can be while preparing to begin studying for a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology which is his passion outside of football.
Aponte took some time to share with ZZ so we could get to know him better.
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The Arizona Football freshman offensive lineman feels blessed to be playing for his dream school. A 6-foot-5 265-pound 18-year-old local product out of Peoria High School, in Peoria, Arizona, his team went 8-4 last season.
A Preferred Walk On (PWO) is a commit who has not yet earned a scholarship but the coaching staff wants to have him as part of their program. They wish they could give out more scholarships, but Aponte will have to prove himself, even more, to eventually earn one.
This Wildcat may not yet have an Arizona Football scholarship in hand, but he has a couple from High School.
Aponte plays on the O-Line, but he educated us on what that means exactly, it’s not just one position. “I play on the offensive line which is made up of three different positions but at this level, you have to learn and be able to play them all. But their whole job is to protect whoever has the ball whether that’s the quarterback or running back or whomever.”
We are thinking most coaches would want every player to come into the season with the desire to do everything they can do to fight for recognition. This gives Aponte the leg up. There is less pressure to live up to expectations so he can become a pleasant surprise.
“My goal for this and every season is to become a starter, and take part in helping bring my team to a national championship.” And about the possibility being red-shirted in his freshman year? “It’s all up to how much work I put in, how fast I learn everything, and simply taking care of business in practice.” We know that Coach Rod thinks very highly of his PWO’s, and has made sure to mention one or two in press conferences.
To that point, in his first week, Ty (his nickname sometimes) seems to be getting along just fine. “I love my teammates, my roommate is the other PWO Tyson Gardner so we’re going through the same stuff together,” he explained, “But the whole team is very welcoming and I can definitely feel that ‘family’ atmosphere. Everyone in the O-line group is very helpful, the whole group takes their time and help with learning the small things like technique, or what to do in certain situations and help with learning the calls for plays, along with the great coaching from Michalczik and Quinn I’m coming right along.”
Well, that’s great to hear! It seems Jacob Alsadek and his fellow leaders on Offense are doing a fine job so far this summer with the incoming freshmen.
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Here is a taste of how Aponte and his way of thinking can rub off on anyone around him: “When I was younger I was always thinking of how cool it would be for someone to ‘make it big’ and give back. But eventually, it got to the point where instead of hoping and waiting, I made the decision to strive and be that person to ‘make it big’ and give back to the community and people who helped bring about my success.”
Ty has two sisters and two brothers, he is second to his older sister. Also, he is not the only athlete in the family, his mom, Landa, was a two-sport athlete that played both volleyball and basketball at the University of Mary in North Dakota.
I asked Aponte about his intensity on the field, “On the field, I tend to stay calm and composed and maintain my focus, but at the same time go hard every play through the whistle.”
Aponte doesn’t necessarily pattern his game after a player, but he more looks at work ethic, “I try to pattern my work ethic and drive after JJ Watt because his work ethic and drive are completely out of this world, he gives 150% no matter what he’s doing. If you’ve seen the show Hard Knocks when they followed the Texans when they’d just show him in a drill it was truly something special!”
The true love of the game of football, that is what you feel coming out of this young athlete. “On the field it’s a weird sensation but everything is so clear, all the stress from day to day life just disappears and all that matters is what’s going on in the moment, who you’re going to block the next play, what your assignment is etc. and nothing else matters for those 60 minutes,” explained Aponte.
Oh, but there’s more, “My motivation and what drives me is because I have a pure love for the game of football. But what I love about the game most is that I’m talented, everyone on the team is talented, and it gives all of us a platform to display our skills.”
When asked for any messages Aponte might have for those reading this post, his answer is for those aspiring to reach their dreams and play at the collegiate level. “For really anyone coming up or wants to be an athlete in the future, my message is to just take care of your business in the classroom and great things will come. And coach Michalczik says this a lot and it’s ‘don’t stress out and worry another the big things, focus on the little stuff.'”
Here are some of Aponte’s high school highlights:
After speaking to Tyrell and getting to know this brand new Wildcat, I came away with such a positive and intelligent vibe from this young man, it’s hard to find anything to question him on as far as attitude and work ethic or anything for that matter. If every player felt this way, if they gave it 150%, just think of the possibilities. Lots of lessons to learn here. Bear Down Tyrell! We will be watching, enjoy the process.