Penn State safety Troy Apke has a pro football home, taken by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft on Saturday.
The 6-foot-1 Apke was half of the Nittany Lions’ salty safety partnership last fall with Marcus Allen, another NFL draft prospect. Apke recorded 55 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups and an interception last season.
A former track standout with superb straight-line speed, the Pennsylvania native was an immediate contributor on special teams for the Lions as a true freshman in 2014. Apke continued to excel in that phase of the game throughout his time in Happy Valley, blocking a fourth-quarter field goal attempt at Iowa on Sept. 23 of his senior season to help preserve a 21-19 victory.
— Hiro Katsuki (@_gifZONE) September 24, 2017
All of which could serve the Lions defensive back well at the next level, where rookies and late-round draft picks are often targeted as special teams contributors. With concerns about his coverage recognition and his frame (6-foot-1 but only 206 pounds), Apke’s NFL stock had slipped somewhat below the radar immediately after a solid senior season.
Troy Apke’s career stats
|Games||Tackles||Tackles for loss||Pass breakups||Interceptions|
But a flurry of impressive winter performances in turn helped elevate the Pennsylvania native’s stock considerably. Apke got the ball rolling in January when he was named the MVP of the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, in which he recorded 7 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.
Apke followed that up by raising the ante at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis — posting a 41-inch vertical jump, a 131-inch broad jump and topping all safeties at the event with a blistering 4.34-second time in the 40-yard dash.
That last performance drew a hilarious and viral response from pro football icon and NFL Network commentator Deion Sanders, no slouch in the speed department himself:
THE GREAT/ GOAT 🐐 DEION SANDERS @DeionSanders IS JUST AWESOME AND FUNNY. HE SHOULD BE A COMEDIAN ONE DAY AND MUCH RESPECT ✊💯🏈👀👀👀👀👀🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 CONGRATS TO TROY APKE @Traps_5 ON THE 40 YARD DASH, WELL DESERVED #WorkHard #NeverGiveUp @DeionSandersJr @NFL pic.twitter.com/rlW9BvsfPk
— #DAL #Yankees 16-9 #GYM (@RealboyNithin) March 6, 2018
“That is unbelievable right there,” Sanders chuckled. “I’m drafting him.”
Apparently, at least one front office decided to take Neon Deion’s advice. And run with it.