IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa has been named to the 2019 Bednarik Award Watch List.
The Bednarik Award is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate defensive player. Iowa has had four semifinalists for the award since 2005 with former defensive back Desmond King being the most recent in 2016.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, Epenesa (6-foor-6, 280-pounds) led the Big Ten and ranked 12th nationally in sacks (10.5), ranked second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in forced fumbles (4), and ranked fourth in the conference in tackles for loss (16.5). The Glen Carbon, Illinois, native also recorded 37 tackles, four pass break-ups, eight pressures, and a blocked punt.
Epenesa was one of five finalists for the 2018 Polynesian Player of the Year award and a two-time Co-Big Ten Defensive Player of Week for his play in wins against Illinois and Iowa State. Earlier this summer, he garnered preseason first-team All-America recognition by Athlon Sports.
The Bednarik Award was established in 1995 and is named after Chuck Bednarik, a member of the College Football and NFL Hall of Fame.
The award, in conjunction with the NCFAA, will announce semifinalists Oct. 29, while three finalists will be revealed Nov. 25. The winner will be announced Dec. 12 as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.
The Hawkeyes open the 2019 season Aug. 31, hosting Miami, Ohio. For ticket information, visit hawkeyesports.com/footballgameday.