Before Carson Epps departed Ames last winter, a trip that would ultimately secure his commitment before he left, the receiver sat in a position meeting with Mark Mangino.
It was a cold January day, still far removed from fall camp, but Epps sat keyed in on the plays that both Mark and his son, receivers coach Tommy Mangino, showed him. What he saw, even then, seemed so familiar.
“Just being there with the Manginos and kind of seeing how their offense runs, it’s really, really similar to what we run at Jenks [High School],” Epps said at the time. “They were saying if I could come in and pick up the plays, who knows, I could be playing next year. They just see me being one more playmaker added to a long list of good recruits that they’re bringing in this year.”
Fast-forward to fall camp, and Epps is very much in the receiving picture.
Iowa State entered fall camp with plans to use one true freshman in 2015, that being power running back Joshua Thomas in the running game. With fall camp now behind the Cyclones, you can add one new name to that list.
“Carson Epps has impressed up,” coach Paul Rhoads said Wednesday. “Right now we’ll go into the first game with the plan of Carson Epps playing as well.”
Epps is a 6-foot-1 receiver from Jenks, Okla., who is the cousin of both fellow incoming freshman receiver Denver Johnson and former Iowa State defensive back Jeremy Reeves. Iowa State jumped in on Johnson early and was later tipped off to Epps by both Johnson and Reeves later in the recruiting process.
After breaking Jenks High School marks last fall for receptions (66) and receiving yards (1,103), Epps has quickly stood out in early practices.
What exactly has stood out?
“Maturity, similar to Allen [Lazard],” Rhoads said. “You know a little bit less about him because we became fully engaged in the recruiting process later with him where Allen, shoot, we had recruited him and known him for such a long time and it was very obvious Allen’s level of maturity. With Carson we’ve learned it more as he’s arrived on campus. He’s physically strong like Allen was, great mental aptitude and he has that mental maturity you better have if you’re going to play as a true freshman.”
He also possesses many varying attributes.
Epps is a receiver capable of playing both outside and in the slot while also being able to use his speed to get behind defenders. He received high praise from that highly-prized recruit Rhoads compared him to.
“To be honest I think he’s light-years ahead of what I was last year,” Lazard said of Epps. “He’s very, very smart football-wise. I think he can do a lot of special things this year, he can help us a lot.”
What exactly is the scouting report?
“I’d say do-it-all guy,” Lazard said. “He has great footwork, has a great release and then he has pretty good hands too.”
Plus, he’s already getting ahold of the plays he first got a glimpse at back on his winter vist.