We officially have a Big Ten schedule, but despite the release there remain a number of questions and growing skepticism around a college football season occurring in 2020. Despite the uncertainty, we’re pushing forward with a countdown to the proposed start date for Iowa Football, which remains September 5th (although the opponent has changed from Northern Illinois to Maryland).
Today, we continue the countdown with a newcomer with a familiar name: Eric Epenesa.
Eric Epenesa - Freshman
Glen Carbon, IL (Edwardsville)
2020 Projection: Redshirt
There are few last names in Hawkeye lore that excite the fanbase as much as the Epenesa sirname. The OG Epenesa, Eppy, was a walk on for Hayden Fry. While his was a name nobody could forget, it was his eldest son, AJ, who quickly became legend.
Now A.J. Epenesa is a Buffalo Bill, but the legacy continues. A.J.’s younger (but not youngest) brother Eric is a preferred walk on linebacker who chose to follow in his father and brother’s footsteps over scholarship offers from Butler and Northwest Missouri State.
The younger Epenesa is not as stout as his older brother or dad, but at 6’3” and 185 pounds, he does come in with a good frame to bulk up at the linebacker position. That is sure to take some time and as such, Epenesa is expected to redshirt in his true frosh year at Iowa.
However, Epenesa does bring some unique skills that helped him earn the preferred walk on spot. In addition to being able to contribute in the traditional special teams sense, Epenesa was a high school long snapper. That’s certainly not something everyone can do and having a linebacker capable of snapping is an asset in terms of coverage abilities.
Speaking with HawkeyReport, Epenesa seemed well aware the fastest way to playing time for Coach Ferentz would be on special teams.
“I think I’m pretty good at long snapping and honestly, that’s probably my quickest way to get on the field... This summer I am going to try and find someone to work with me on it before camp so I can continue to improve.”
With the linebacking logjam previously discussed and the need to add some weight, Epenesa is still a virtual lock for a redshirt year in 2020 despite his special teams potential. Looking ahead to 2021, a bigger, bulkier Epenesa could push to add depth at linebacker and is sure to make a run at carving out a role on special teams.
As we saw with brother A.J., hard work and effort won’t be a factor in slowing him down. In the same HawkeyeReport recap of Eric’s commitment, A.J. was quick to point out the work ethic.
“Iowa’s getting a guy who is going to work really hard each and every day and I think he’s going to be someone who will do whatever it takes to help the team during his career.”
It’s good to have another Epenesa in the black and gold!