A.J. Epenesa is coming to Iowa with a pedigree unlike most Hawkeye commits.
In a program that isn’t built on blue-chip recruits, Epenesa’s 5-star status warrants some immediate playing time. He’s the fifth-highest rated recruit in program history, according to 247Sports Composite rankings, and he could be a factor for the Hawkeyes during his true freshman season. Phil Parker, Iowa’s defensive coordinator, said Wednesday he’s planning on playing Epenesa 15 or 20 plays per game in 2017.
#qctimes Phil Parker: Could see AJ Epenesa getting 15, 20 plays a game as a true freshman, depends on how quickly he adjusts
— Steve Batterson (@sbatt79) April 19, 2017
This is all just a projection, as Epenesa won’t get to campus until this summer. Still, he’ll enter fall camp with as good a shot any true freshman to grab a starting spot. Iowa has Anthony Nelson, Matt Nelson, Parker Hesse, and Sam Brinks returning at defensive end. Epenesa has a higher recruiting profile than any of them, but 15-20 plays a game doesn’t mean he’ll be starting.