The third of eight children, and the eldest boy in his family, he stepped up in as many ways as he could after his father died when Apon was in third grade.
Apon, a rising fifth-year senior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., got his start in football in Cherokee County. A student at King’s Academy, he played his high school games for Crown Athletics, a Georgia Independent Schools Association member, and was a standout on the field.
“Growing up, I didn’t play football, but as Crown started a team, I just started playing,” Apon said. “I realized I really had a love for it. It has really worked out perfect for me. It wasn’t the biggest football team or the biggest scorer, but they gave me an opportunity to learn to play the game, and it was just enough to get me to the next level.”
The summer after graduating from high school, Apon attended a football camp at Liberty. When he returned to campus as a student in the fall, the coaching staff remembered him.
He made the Football Championship Subdivision program as a walk-on that season and eventually earned a scholarship. After seeing his playing time as a tight end increase, Apon’s rise at Liberty reached a new high when he was named a team captain at the end of spring practice.
Just a few weeks after that, he received his bachelor’s degree in business marketing, and on May 4, he married his fiance, Brittany, whom he met at Liberty.
“She is my biggest fan,” Brandon Apon of his wife. “When you are in the grind of football and school, it’s nice to have my wife to go home to relax with and vent to. It has helped me be more focused.”
Apon’s emergence as a leader wasn’t a surprise to his high school coach, Darin Armour.
“He was always a leader for us, not just on the field, but from a character standpoint,” Armour said.
Apon said being named one of Liberty’s five team captains solidified his position with the Flames.
“It was like, ‘Wow, these guys really do respect me,’” he said. “That was humbling. I think, more than anything, I’m realizing that I have always been a leader. In college, I was just true to myself. I didn’t try to be anybody that I wasn’t.”
The biggest thing Apon has learned since becoming a captain is how much work it takes and how much pressure there is on him.
“Obviously, (the captains) don’t play all the positions and make it happen on the field,” Apon said. “But if guys are slacking off, it falls back on us to motivate them. It’s definitely an honor and a privilege.”
Apon said he never doubted that he could make it — on or off the field — but he admits that it was a challenge coming from an unknown program in Cherokee County.
“I always felt that, if you had the ability, the work ethic, the desire to be successful, it doesn’t really matter where you come from,” he said. “It was always kind of an uphill challenge for me, but Crown (Athletics) prepared me in every way as far as getting the coaching that I needed.”
Apon, whose sister, Christieanna, is a rising sophomore at Liberty and a member of the Flames’ track team, said one of the nice things about going to Liberty is that he is now playing alongside players who went to much larger high schools.
“Some of them are from big AAAAAA schools and state championship teams and really what I have learned is that it’s not so much where you come from, but who you are as a person,” Apon said. “That determines how far you go as a player.”
At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, there’s no question Apon is built for football. He was 30 pounds lighter in high school and played wide receiver, but he easily made the shift to tight end for the Flames.
Armour said Apon’s talent package includes speed and agility. Apon also has the intangibles.
“He has always been a standout,” Armour said. “When he played for us, he was one of those kids that you knew that something big was going to happen with him. As a home-school player or private-school player, you are always trying to prove what kind of caliber of player you are, and he has certainly grown a lot since he has been (at Liberty), not just physically, but in skill as well.”
When Apon started with the Flames, he did a lot of blocking, helped with the run game and worked on special teams. As a junior, he started seeing the ball come his way more often, and Apon finished the 2012 campaign with five receptions for 98 yards. He was one of just four players with multiple touchdown receptions.
“It’s been a process for me to become more physical and to live up to the expectations that they have for me,” Apon said. “I just try to be the hardest worker in any environment I am in, whether it’s the weight room, the film room or in the gym. I will just give it my all. It doesn’t mean I will be the best, but I will give it my best for sure.”
Looking toward to his final season with the Flames, Apon would like to be named an all-Big South Conference player.
“Really, I want to be the best that I can be,” he said. “I want to be someone that my teammates can rely on. I think that, if I can satisfy myself, there is no limit to what that can be.”
Armour, who has also coached a couple of Apon’s younger brothers, said he keeps in touch with Brandon. Armour also played at Liberty and often returns for homecoming and watches Apon closely.
“We talk about him all the time,” Armour said. “He is kind of a trailblazer for us in going out there and putting Crown on the map. It shows the guys that they can do that, too.”