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  Iowa junior A.J. Epenesa knows that he has a strong shot at being picked in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft should he choose to go pro next spring. He's choosing not to think about it all that much. Epenesa, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive end who led the Big Ten with 10 1-2 sacks a year ago despite coming off the bench, is poised for a monster season in 2019. Epenesa will play nearly every down next fall after the Hawkeyes lost three linemen to the NFL, meaning his numbers should spike even as opposing teams build their game plans around slowing him down. But Epenesa also knows that if he loses sight of doing all he can to help the Hawkeyes in 2019, he might not be as highly regarded by NFL teams in 2020.

Iowa opens next season on Aug. 31 against Miami (Ohio). "It's a lifelong dream," Epenesa said about playing in the NFL. "But I try not to think too hard about it. I don't want it to distract me from other things. Obviously, it's a blessing to be put up that high with other big names ... basically, I don't want to lose focus on what's going on here." As arguably the highest-rated recruit coach Kirk Ferentz has had in 21 seasons at Iowa, Epenesa arrived in Iowa City with a ton of hype. The Hawkeyes even used him as a freshman, something they rarely do with linemen, and he made the Big Ten's all-freshman team in spot duty. - AP College Football


(DS#3 DE) Jr/2020 DE *A.J. EpenesaIowa
News Source: AP College Football


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