IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa has been named to the 2019 Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Watch List. Epenesa was one of five finalists for last year’s award.
The award is presented annually to the most outstanding Polynesian college football player who showcases great ability and integrity. Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota won the inaugural award in 2014, while Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa won the award last season.
Last season, Epenesa (6-foot-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) to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. The Glen Carbon, Illinois, native also recorded 37 tackles, four pass break-ups, eight pressures, and a blocked punt.
As a prep at Edwardsville High School, Epenesa played in the Polynesian Bowl, where he was named defensive MVP after recording five tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.
This summer, Epenesa has been named to the Nagurski Trophy Watch List, B1G Preseason Honors List, Bednarik Award Watch List, and Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List, among other preseason All-America honors.
Five finalists for the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Award will be unveiled Dec. 5, while the winner will be announced Dec. 17. A presentation for the award will be held during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week Celebrations Dinner on Jan. 17.
The Hawkeyes open the 2019 season Aug. 31, hosting Miami, Ohio. For ticket information for all seven home games, visit hawkeyesports.com/footballgameday.