The Iowa Hawkeyes might already have a star in freshman DE A.J. Epenesa. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound lineman figures to see enough action to make an impact early this season. Through three games, Epenesa had 3 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Below, find information about Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa.
1. Iowa DE A.J. Epenesa was a 5-star recruit
From Edwardsville, Ill., Epenesa was rated as 5-star recruit for the 2017 class. Nationally, he rated No. 1 as a strong-side defensive end. Even more impressively, 247 Sports ranked him as the No. 27 prospect. He was also rated as Illinois’ top recruit.
Epenesa is only the second 5-star recruit to step on the Iowa City campus for coach Kirk Ferentz.
2. A.J. Epenesa won a state title in high school…in track & field
The impressive football player was also a star athlete with the discus for Edwardsville. The All-America selection set an Illinois state record with a discus throw of 205-11 as a junior. He then won a state championship as a senior. He ended up winning two individual gold and team state titles.
3. A.J. Epenesa’s father played for Iowa
Epenesa’s father, Eppy, was a Hawkeye himself. His father played in the 1990s and earned letterman status. Though the ties to the Hawkeyes were obvious and he grew up as a fan of Iowa, he said he removed all emotion from the recruiting decision.
“Every school had nice things,” Epenesa said. “Iowa just got a new football facility that just got finished. Obviously, it’s all nice and every program that you go to at this level of football will be nice. Nowhere felt as home as it did at Iowa.”
4. A.J. Epenesa also starred in basketball in high school
He played football, threw the discuss — and did more than that. While at Edwardsville, Epenesa scored more than 1,000 points in his career. During his senior season, he even averaged a double-double.
5. Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa was an All-State pick for three seasons
Epenesa didn’t suddenly surged in his final high school season. He was a major star throughout his high school career. He picked up First Team All-State honors three consecutive years. He was also First Team All-Conference his freshman season. Going 40-6 in his high school career, Epenesa made a combined 57 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and 14 quarterback hurries as a senior.
Epenesa was also names MVP of the Polynesian Bowl when he posted 5 tackles, 2 sacks and forced two fumbles in the game.