POSITION: DEFENSIVE END
STAR RANK: FIVE-STAR
POSITION RANK: 4
COMMIT DATE: January 17, 2016
LEAD RECRUITER: Brian Ferentz/Kirk Ferentz/LeVar Woods
EVALUATION: What can I even say at this point that hasn't already been said? This kid is a monster get for Iowa. He is a great athlete but also plays with a motor. He will be tough to keep off the field as a true freshman and after seeing them develop defensive linemen with lesser profiles into top flight guys like Drew Ott or even a lower 4-star like Jaleel Johnson, I wouldn't be surprised to see A.J. shaking Roger Goodell's hand in a few years. - Midwest Analyst Allen Trieu
RECRUITMENT: Everyone in the country practically offered Epenesa by the end of his junior season, including Iowa. The Hawkeye legacy weighed his options for a bit, considered some of the blueblood programs and took a couple visits, but still took a handful of trips to Iowa City. He scheduled one particular visit to Iowa in January and most of his family was in tow. They came to see Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeye program with one thing in mind and that was to give Iowa their verbal commitment. It went down with no issues and he's never wavered from his pledge to the Hawkeyes ever since.
OUTLOOK: There's no debating that Epenesa will play at Iowa right away and perhaps be crowned a starter as a true freshman. But even if he isn't a starter at defensive end, there will be snaps for him. He's too much of a talent and college-ready player to keep off the field. If not a regular starter out of the gate, Epenesa will provide depth at defensive end as the Hawkeyes use plenty of defensive ends typically. Also, if not a starter at defensive end, and when Hesse and Anthony Nelson are the ends playing, he could provide some assistance inside to ensure him as many snaps as possible. However, he's going to play a lot as a freshman and most of the snaps should come as a defensive end. Does he start? I'm not so sure he does right away but I think he's a regular starter before the season ends.