Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our top 150 players for the 2012 season.
No. 87: Ryan Aplin, No. 16, Arkansas State, Quarterback
No offense to the dynamic TY Hilton of a season ago, but Ryan Aplin was the best player the Sun Belt has seen in quite some time.
The rising senior has quite the arm, throwing for over 3,500 yards, and he has enough wiggle to lead the Red Wolves in rushing as well. He really is a treat to watch on the screen, as he can evade the rush and is capable of getting his passes off under tremendous duress. The rising senior is also pretty slippery when he gets into the open field. He can break tackles, but he's at his best weaving through defenders and picking up that extra few yards for his team.
For all of his skills, decision-making is the biggest downfall of Ryan Aplin. The senior has to get better at protecting the football; his 19:16 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the most unimpressive portion of his game.
With a new system coming in from first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, Aplin's choices will be paramount, as he looks to run and throw his team to their second straight Sun Belt championship.
Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze are not terribly different as far as offensive systems go; that is a positive for Aplin. However, losing Derek Lawson and Dwayne Frampton will be a major blow, especially with transfer running back Michael Dyer unlikely to be cleared for action in 2012.
Aplin will have to improve upon his decision-making, but Gus Malzahn is going to further push the tempo and help create mismatches for the senior to take advantage of in both the run and the pass game. Look for Aplin to not only be the first-team All-Sun Belt quarterback, but to repeat as the conference's Player of the Year.
Photo courtesy The Sports Seer.