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Apple Family Tree Is Rooted in New Hope/Lambertville

Written by: on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016. Follow Don Leypoldt on Twitter.


To Run in the August 25 Bucks County Herald

It surprised no one when Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple was selected in the first round of this April’s NFL Draft.

It was a mild surprise when the 6’1” Apple was conscripted by the New York Giants with the tenth pick.

One local resident couldn’t be happier to have Apple playing fairly close to her home.

“He was interviewed thoroughly by many teams and we were amazed when he went to the Giants,” said New Hope’s Marjorie Apple, Eli’s grandmother, “because the rumor was he was going to the Dolphins.”

“We knew (italics) walking into the Draft that Eli was going to the Dolphins at the 13th pick,” emphasized Tim Apple, Marjorie’s son. “We had prepared to go to Miami. The Giants really did pop out of nowhere. When we got to sit down with them, they said ‘We don’t communicate a lot. We met Eli at the Combine and he checked off every box that we had. We knew we didn’t need to talk to him again.’”

The Giants hope that Apple is the “core” of their secondary for years to come. Eli’s incredible story is anchored in Lambertville.

“I adopted Tim in 1971 and moved into Lambertville with him when he was a toddler,” recalled Marjorie, a retired music teacher at East Amwell. “I bought a historic home on Weeden Street way up on the hill above the river. It was a very run down place but I fell in love with it. I stayed there, renovated it and was there until 1999.”

“One of my fondest memories is Eli and his two brothers- Eli might have been in second or third grade- and we’re all sledding at Magill’s Hill,” Tim reminisced.

Marjorie eventually moved over the river to New Hope. Tim Apple would go to Buckingham Friends, then the George School. He met Annie Woodard at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia. Tim was a chef while Annie was a concierge.

“Annie was working part time as she finished college,” Marjorie continued. “She already had three boys from a previous marriage. Tim raised her boys. He’s been the most wonderful father.”

Tim and Annie married when Eli, who spent two very early years in Ghana with family while his mother completed college, was young. “Eli was always a serious kid,” said Tim. “In the first year he played for the 105 pound Vikings, which is the youth football program in Voorhees. In the second or third practice, the coach looked over and saw this kid from the 105 team carrying the ball with speed. He said, ‘Wow, he’s going to be really special.’ He was talking about Eli.”

Young Eli Woodard combined elite football skills with an encyclopedic knowledge of the game’s history. A star at Eastern High School in Voorhees, Eli ranked as one of the best prep cornerbacks in the country. He accepted a scholarship to Ohio State.

Four days before Christmas in 2012, Eli Woodard formally changed his name to Eli Apple.

“A wise man once stated, ‘Fatherhood is not biology. Fatherhood is responsibility,’” Eli said in a statement that day. “From the time I was 2 years old, my dad, Timothy Apple, has been my father. He’s nurtured, provided and protected our family.

“I am the man I am today because of his tireless love and commitment to our family. So it is with great pride and honor I carry his last name.”

“I have been far from perfect in my life and growing up, I made things harder on myself than a lot of people do,” Tim admitted. “I was able to take a bunch of the experiences that I had and, as things came together in my own life, I was armed with a whole blueprint of how to parent. It’s a compliment not to the job I’ve done but to the job Annie and I have done together. It doesn’t get better than that.”

As a sophomore Eli Apple led Ohio State, the eventual national champions, with ten pass breakups. He intercepted Heisman trophy winner, Oregon’s Marcus Mariotta, in the National Championship game, which the Buckeyes won 42-20. Eli’s 4.40 40-yard dash time stands as one of the fastest times ever recorded by a player of his height.

“Eli is the kind of player I like to refer to as the total package–great athlete, great kid, great future,” Campus Insiders’ (italics) Rich Cirminiello told the Herald. (italics) “He’s uniquely positioned to be an instant impact performer for the Giants, and a fan favorite once the locals have a chance to peek under the helmet.”

“He is extremely focused. He practically wears blinders, I always tell him,” Marjorie said. “Succeeding in football is his whole goal in life. That is all that he has wanted.”

But family is just as important to Eli Apple as football. “Eli loves to come home when he has free time,” Marjorie continued. “He also has a strong religious background. His mother’s mother is a minister in Ghana.

“When he signed his contract, he said to Tim, ‘This money is for our family (italics)- for anyone in the family who needs help.’ He didn’t run out and buy expensive gifts,” Marjorie pointed out. “That’s the kind of kid he is.”

Photo caption: Giant first round pick Eli Apple, whose family is from Lambertville, stands between New York Giant GM Jerry Reese (left) and Giant head coach Ben McAdoo. Apple joins Council Rock South’s Justin Pugh as Giants with area ties

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