He proudly carries a 3.7 GPA, has scored a 1,200 on the 1,600-scale SAT, and is receiving considerable attention from Pitt, Temple, UConn, West Virginia and Penn State. But Apostolu is most proud of the difference he's making in the lives of others less fortunate than himself.
For the third straight summer, Apostolu, as a member of the nondenominational Covenant United Methodist Church, took a trip to a rough area of Virginia, this year to Tazewell, home of former Phillies relief pitcher Billy Wagner, and hammered nails and installed floors in scorching heat.
He went from a recruiting trip to UMass on June 22 straight down to Virginia to get to work.
"It is eye-opening because it's so tough to see people living like that; it's a different way of life. They don't have as much as we have, but usually, they make more of what they do have," said Apostolu, who also competes for Springfield's swim team and throws the shot and discus for the Cougars in the spring. "You see how bad things can be, and how lucky I am. We are lucky to live in a good socio-economic region. You can't imagine being in a home without electricity, or without running water and living like that.
"You don't realize how many things you have in your own life. We all take things for granted. When I tell other kids about this, some don't understand why I would give up a week [actually, 10 days] to do this every year. But you have to see firsthand how people less fortunate live to understand. Some people don't have the same luxuries we take for granted. I've learned not to take for granted what I have and it makes you hungrier. I think it has made me a better person and a better football player."
The biggest challenge for Apostolu? The bugs and bees.
"This year was much tamer than past years," said Apostolu, who sleeps in a local community center each time he goes. "In previous years, we've reconstructed whole homes, starting from scratch. This was my third time doing this, and if I'm playing college football next year, I still plan on going back and helping. To me, it's very important to help people. But I usually lose weight after these trips."
This is a huge summer for Apostolu. With his academics, he's able to attend just about any school he wants. But his drive is to play major college football. This summer, he wanted to prove he belongs on the radar of BCS schools. Yet, Apostolu still set aside time to fulfill his commitment to the Appalachian Service Project.
"I think that says a lot about Nick," said Springfield coach Tom Kline, whose team has reached the PIAA District 1 Class AAA playoffs the last 2 years. "I've been coaching offensive lineman for close to 20 years, and Nick is the best I've worked with. He's the best player coming back in the Central League, and I'll step that up further and say he's among the best returning offensive linemen in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The thing with Nick, his frame itself, you can't teach size, he's 6-5 1/2, 305, and he plays offense and defense for us."
Kline said schools are holding off until the season begins to make offers to Apostolu. But the Cougars coach stressed that if college coaches were recruiting solely on character, Apostolu already would be flooded with offers.
"Right now, some schools want to see him play tackle. I could see Nick anywhere at the offensive line on the next level," Kline said. "But the quality of Nick that I like above everything else is that he thinks about others before he thinks about himself. That ties into his character.
"Most kids like him wouldn't do what Nick does. They think it's taking away from their time at the beach or their workout time. Nick thinks about helping others before he thinks about himself. Once coaches find that out, they're totally impressed."