The man of many names

Ross Apo

He's known by many names. Since his days of summer camps, BYU wide receiver Ross Apo has accumulated quite a few nicknames for reasons he isn't even aware of. However, regardless of the different nicknames – both funny and complimentary – that he's known by, Apo understands there is a bigger purpose behind doing what he does.

While BYU basketball star Jimmer Fredette might have been on two different Sport Illustrated covers, Ross Apo has acquired a certain nickname from a men's publication of a different kind. It's just one nickname he's been give over the past couple of years.

"Oh man, they call me a lot of things," said Apo with a smile on his face. "One nickname they call me is ‘G.Q.' Man, they've got a lot of different nicknames for me."

Then there's the nickname that sounds like the title of a song from a Berry White album.

"They also call me 'Silky,'" said Apo with a laugh. "I guess it's because when I run, I run smooth."

Like Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, formerly known as the football artist Chad Johnson, Apo also has a digit nickname.

"They also call me 'Eight,'" said a bewildered Apo. "I have no idea where that one comes from. I have no clue."

It does seem odd to call Apo "Eight" since he wears a number 11 jersey, but if that nickname seems puzzling, then the next one will also leave you scratching your head. This nickname was given to him by Coach Mendenhall's defense, and it sounds like a combination of a ‘90s rapper and an old ‘70s sitcom.

"They also call me 'Rhyme Shack,' and, again, I have no idea where that nickname comes from either," Apo said while shrugging his shoulders. "Honestly, you're going to have to ask those guys where that one comes from."

Best friend Kyle Van Noy made a reference to Apo being like the character Craig from the movie ‘Friday After Next,' but the first nickname that was given to Ross Apo is a reference to NFL receiver Randy Moss.

"I like the name ‘Randy Ross,'" Apo said. "That was a nickname that was given to me when I first came here a long time ago during a summer camp. That's the nickname I like."

But there is one nickname Apo doesn't have, and that's 'The Jimmer.' Though the basketball team's season unfortunately just came to an end in the Sweet 16, Apo expressed enthusiasm earlier this week for their success.

"Oh, it's awesome that they're getting that kind of publicity for us," Apo said. "You know, I hate to talk about the thing that happened with Brandon Davies, but we're going to clean that up and show the world that we can still win even though we're held to a higher standard. You know, people talk about how that's impossible, but nothing is impossible and the basketball team has proven that already."

Coach Mendenhall has made it clear that he wants to win and do it with players that hold themselves to a higher standard. He's heard people voicing opinions to the contrary and has addressed this issue with his football team.

"Coach Mendenhall tells us that nothing is impossible all the time," Apo said. "He said, 'How impossible is possible?' I think what the basketball team has already shown and done for our school and the program is the best thing ever."

Following the media attention given to the suspension of Brandon Davies, Coach Mendenhall addressed his players in a teaching moment.

"Coach Mendenhall actually showed the team sport clips of media analysts and what they were saying," Apo said. "Many of them were saying that what BYU did was the right thing. You know, they were all for it and he broke the rules. Even though they're harsh and hard, there is a consequence for everything, but they've shown that they can overcome the obstacles and still win despite it."

The decision to suspend Davies – who was the team's third-leading scorer and primary force on the inside – at a time when the Cougars were the nation's darling is rare in today's college sports. Many college coaches would have ignored the consequences, electing to trade principles for wins.

"A lot of colleges wouldn't do that, but you have to lead by example," Apo said earlier in the week. "It happened, it's done with and they're still winning and they've proven people wrong so far. We've always been a university where we play for something more. We're not perfect, but that's why we're here."

Of course, the basketball team would go on to lose to Florida, but not before reaching the school's first Sweet 16 in 30 years and winning more games that any previous Cougar team.

Apo's sees the big picture. It's the same view behind BYU's decision to go independent. Whether you're known as Rhyme Shack, Silky or Jimmer on the field of play, the purpose is to be an ambassador of a higher calling.

"You know, we play for God, and you have to play like God is watching you," Apo said. "We have to give 100 percent because He gave up all He could for us, so why not give back? The coaches have always told us why BYU is different and how we have to be different even before the whole Brandon Davies things. They let you know what you're getting into when you come here. You know all the rules and standards, and if you don't want to follow them, don't come here. A lot of schools can't say they give up a lot for standing for what's right, but we can."

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