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  04/17/20 - DE *A.J. EpenesaJr/2020, Iowa

  Family has always been at the heart of A.J. Epenesa's life story. One of the most dominant pass rushers to ever wear an Iowa football uniform comes from humble roots. His father, the youngest of seven children, moved to the U.S. from a poor family in American Samoa, dreaming of something bigger for his future sons and daughters. Now that long-awaited moment is here. Even if it isn't exactly how the Epenesas envisioned it. The global COVID-19 pandemic has turned the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, into a coordinated event of video streams. America's top football prospects will be at home, rather than under the fountains of the famed Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas as originally planned. "My brothers and sisters have never seen anything like this," says Eppy Epenesa, A.J.'s well-known father to Hawkeye fans as a former Iowa defensive lineman in the 1990s under Hayden Fry. "So, I was planning to get (them) together."

He had pledged to fly two sisters to Vegas from "the island," as he calls it, of American Samoa (a small U.S. territory in the South Pacific Ocean). Two living brothers (Eppy's oldest brother is deceased) and a sister live in California; they were planning to venture to Vegas, too, for an unforgettable family celebration. While different, the upcoming party will be packed with meaning and joy. A.J. Epenesa is expected to be a first- or second-round pick and could command a rookie contract worth eight figures. Instead of taking a short Bellagio boat ride to shake hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Epenesa will be seen by America from his parents' living room in Glen Carbon, Illinois. - Iowa City Press-Citizen

Jr/2020 DE *A.J. EpenesaIowa
News Source: Iowa City Press-Citizen

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