University of Iowa Athletics
DE

#94 A.J. Epenesa

Height 6-5
Weight 277 lbs.
Class Fr.
Hometown Glen Carbon, Ill.
High School Edwardsville

Hawk Item – – Recorded 11.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss, with four forced fumbles in 2019 . . . led the Big Ten and ranked 12th nationally in sacks (10.5) in 2018 . . . ranked second in Big Ten and 16th nationally with four forced fumbles in 2018 . . . ranked fourth in Big Ten in tackles for loss (16.5) . . . one of two true freshmen named to 2017 Leadership Group . . . one of 10 true freshmen to see action in 2017.

2019 Honors – – Holiday Bowl Defensive Most Valuable Player . . . named to Associated Press All-Bowl team for his play in the Holiday Bowl . . . one of five finalists for the Polynesian Player of the Year . . . finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award . . . first-team All-America by The Athletic . . . second-team All-America by Walter Camp Foundation, The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association . . . third-team All-America by Phil Steele . . . first-team All-Big Ten by league coaches and media . . . first-team All-big Ten by The Associated Press and Phil Steele . . . Roy Carver Most Valuable Player, defense . . . named Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his play in 27-24 win at Nebraska, and 23-19 win over #7 Minnesota . . . quarterfinal candidate for Lott IMPACT Trophy . . . named to Big Ten Conference preseason Watch List . . . named to preseason Watch List for Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award . . . preseason Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year by CollegeFootballNews.com . . . preseason first-team All-America by Athlon Sports and CollegeFootballNews.com . . . preseason second-team All-America by Phil Steele . . . preseason first-team All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports, CollegeFootballNews.com and Phil Steele . . . 2019 – – Started all 13 games at defensive end . . . recorded 49 tackles, including 32 solo stops and 17 assists . . . led team with 14.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles . . . also collected nine QB pressures and three pass break-ups . . . started at defensive end for first career start in 38-14 win over Miami, recording one assisted tackle and one pass break-up as defense allowed just 59 net rushing yards . . . started at defensive end in 30-0 win over Rutgers as defense allowed just 125 yards total offense . . . three tackles vs. Rutgers, including one solo stop and two assists . . . also had one QB sack and four QB pressures . . . started at defensive end in 18-17 win at Iowa State, recording one solo tackle and one QB pressure . . . started at defensive end in 48-3 win over Middle Tennessee as defense allowed just 216 yards total offense . . . recorded one solo tackle and one assist vs. MTSU, along with one pass break-up . . . started at defensive end in 10-3 loss at #18 Michigan . . . recorded two solo tackles at Michigan, including one QB sack . . . started at defensive end in 17-12 loss to #9 Penn State . . . seven tackles vs. PSU, including three solo stops and career-best four assists . . . one sack vs. PSU, along with three QB pressures . . . started at defensive end in 26-20 win over Purdue, recording one pass break-up as defense allowed just 33 net rushing yards . . . started at defensove end in 20-0 win at Northwestern as defense allowed just 64 net rushing yards and 202 yards total offense . . . five tackles at Northwestern, including four solo stops and one assist, with a shared QB sack . . . started at defensive end in 24-22 loss at #16 Wisconsin . . . one solo tackle at Wisconsin, a QB sack and caused fumble that led to Iowa field goal and 3-0 first quarter advantage . . . started at defensive end in 23-19 win over #7 Minnesota as defense allowed just 63 net rushing yards . . . four tackles vs. Minnesota, including three solo stops and one assist . . . recorded 2.5 sacks vs. Minnesota, along with a forced fumble and QB pressure . . . started at defensive end in 19-10 win over Illinois . . . five tackles vs. Illinois, including four solo stops and one assist . . . also had 1.5 tackles for loss and third forced fumble of the season vs. Illinois . . . started at defensive end in 27-24 win at Nebraska . . . career-best 14 tackles at Nebraska, including nine solo stops and five assists . . . five tackles for loss at Nebraska, including two sacks . . . started at defensive end in 49-24 Holiday Bowl win over #22 USC as defense allowed just 22 net rushing yards . . . four tackles vs. USC, including three solo stops and one assist . . . tied Iowa bowl record with 2.5 sacks vs. USC, along with collecting fourth forced fumble of the season.

2018 Honors – – One of five finalists for Polynesian Player of the year . . . first-team All-Big Ten by league media and second team by league coaches . . . first-team All-Big Ten by Phil Steele . . . second-team All-Big Ten by Associated Press . . . Coaches Appreciation Award, defense . . . named C0-Defensive Player of the Week in The Big Ten following win at Illinois . . . named Co-Defensive Player of the Week in the Big Ten following win over Iowa State . . . also Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week vs. Iowa State by College Sports Madness . . . named to preseason Watch List for Polynesian College Player of the Year . . . preseason fourth-team All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports . . . 2018 – – Saw action in all 13 games, leading the team in tackles for loss (16.5-81) and sacks (10.5-66) while recording 37 tackles, four pass break-ups, eight QB pressures, four forced fumbles and a blocked punt . . .  saw action in 33-7 win over Northern Illinois as defense allowed just 211 yards total offense . . . recorded one solo tackle and three assists vs. NIU, with one sack, one forced fumble and two QB pressures . . . saw action in 13-3 win over Iowa State as defense allowed just 19 net rushing yards and 188 yards total offense . . . five tackles vs. ISU, including three solo stops and two assists . . . recorded two sacks vs. ISU, with one including a forced fumble recovered by Iowa . . . also had one break-up vs. ISU . . . saw action in 38-14 win over Northern Iowa as defense allowed just six net rushing yards and 222 yards total offense . . . recorded one solo tackle and two assists vs. UNI, including one sack, to go with one QB pressure . . . saw action in 28-17 loss to #18 Wisconsin, recording one assisted tackle and one QB pressure . . . saw action in 48-31 win at Minnesota, recording one assisted tackle as defense allowed just 86 net rushing yards . . . saw action in 42-16 win at Indiana as defense allowed just 67 net rushing yards . . . one solo tackle and one assist at Indiana, including one QB sack  . . . saw action in 23-0 win over Maryland as defense allowed just 39 offensive plays and115 yards total offense . . . recorded three tackles vs. Maryland, including two solo stops and one assist . . . totals included two tackles for loss, one sack and one QB pressure . . . saw action in 30-24 loss at #17 Penn State, recording one solo tackle for a four-yard loss and one QB pressure . . . saw action at defensive tackle in 38-36 loss at Purdue . . . recorded two solo tackles at Purdue, including one sack and tackle for loss . . .  saw action in 14-10 loss to Northwestern . . . recorded three tackles vs. Northwestern, with two solo stops and one assist, including one tackle for loss . . . saw action in 63-0 win at Illinois at defense allowed just 216 yards total offense . . . career-best eight tackles at Illinois, including five solo stops and three assists . . . recorded 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks at Illinois . . . caused and recovered a fumble at Illinois, returning the recovery 19 yards for a touchdown . . . blocked punt and credited with 16 yard return at Illinois that led to Iowa touchdown on the following play, to go with a pass break-up and QB pressure . . . saw action in 31-28 win over Nebraska . . . two solo tackles vs. Nebraska, including two tackles for loss and one sack, along with one pass break-up and one QB pressure . . . saw action in 27-22 Outback Bowl win over #18 Mississippi State . . . one solo tackle and one assist vs. MSU, including one sack, one forced fumble, one pass break-up and one QB pressure . . . forced fumble led to Iowa recovery and resulted in Iowa touchdown.

2017 Honors – – Big Ten Conference All-Freshman team by BTN.com . . . 2017 – – Recorded 15 tackles, including eight solo stops and seven assists, along with 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one pass break-up and one forced fumble . . . saw action in 24-3 opening win over Wyoming as defense allowed just 233 yards total offense . . . recorded one solo tackle and one assist vs. Wyoming, with one sack . . . saw action in 44-41 OT win at Iowa State, recording one sack and one QB pressure . . . saw action in 31-14 win over North Texas, but had no statistics . . . saw action in 21-19 loss to #4 Penn State . . . one solo tackle vs. PSU, which was a QB sack that forced a fumble recovered by Iowa . . . also credited with three QB pressures . . . saw action in 17-10 loss at Michigan State . . . recorded career-best three tackles at MSU, with one solo tackle and two assists . . . also had one 15-yard pass reception to convert a fourth down opportunity . . .  saw action at defensive end in 45-16 win over Illinois, recording one solo tackle and one assist . . . saw action in 17-10 OT loss at Northwestern, recording two QB pressures . . . saw action in 17-10 win over Minnesota, recording two assisted tackles and one QB pressure as defense allowed just 281 yards total offense . . . saw action in 55-24 win over #3 Ohio State, recording one pass break-up . . . saw action in 38-14 loss at #6 Wisconsin . . . recorded one solo tackle at Wisconsin, a sack for minus five yards . . . saw action in 24-15 loss to Purdue . . . career-best two solo tackles, including one sack, along with one QB pressure vs. Purdue . . . saw action in 56-14 win at Nebraska as defense allowed 67 rushing yards and just 267 yards total offense . . . recorded one solo tackle, which was a tackle for loss, at Nebraska . . . saw action in 27-20 Pinstripe Bowl win over Boston College, but had no statistics.

High school honors – – Earned All-America recognition during final three years of prep career . . . earned first-team all-state and all-conference honors for three straight years, and was also named first-team all-conference as a freshman . . . selected to compete in U.S. Army All-American Bowl and Polynesian Bowl . . . named defensive MVP of Polynesian Bowl after recording five tackles, including two sacks and two forced fumbles . . .  Career – – Earned four letters in football, basketball, and track . . . led prep team to state playoffs four straight years, with overall record of 40-6 . . . helped prep team win three straight conference championships . . . recorded 31 solo tackles and 26 assists as a senior, with 13 tackles for loss, five sacks, 14 quarterback pressures and nine blocked kicks . . . team captain as a senior . . . scored over 1,000 career points for prep basketball team . . . earned All-America recognition in track . . . set Illinois state record with discus throw of 205-11 as a junior . . . won state discus title as a senior . . . scored 37 career points in three trips to state track championships, earning two individual gold and two team gold medals . . . averaged scoring and rebounding double-double in basketball as a senior.

Personal – – Born 9/15/98 in Oak Park, Kansas . . . communications major . . . parents are Stephanie and Eppy Epenesa . . . father is an Iowa football letterman . . . high school coach was Matt Martin.