Epenesa's family ties

Mesa (Ca.) College has some talented defenders this year, but one of their best is LB Tony Epenesa (6-2, 225) and he's already getting some pointers from family members already in the NFL. JCFootball.com caught up with the versatile linebacker and he updated us on spring football, recruiting and what he's focusing on in offseason workouts.

Epenesa prepped at Rancho Bernardo in San Diego and because of an NCAA Clearinghouse snafu, he ended up having to go the JC-route.

"I didn't know much about recruiting and qualifying honestly," Epenesa said. "My coach didn't really tell me about that kind of stuff and he just didn't focus on recruiting and help us out, so I didn't find out until it was too late."

Epenesa was always a good student so he's well on his way to finishing his two-year degree at Mesa and said he's also focusing on what he needs to do to be successful at the next level as well as what it takes to make it in the NFL.

"I have a couple of relatives in the NFL already so that really helps me," Epenesa noted. "Pisa Tinoisamoa is playing for the St. Louis Rams and Isaac Sopoaga plays for San Francisco. They are both cousins of mine and I talk to them all the time about what I need to be doing and they really help me get focused on things and my workouts.

"I've really been focused in my hip flexors and my flexibility in general. I want to be able to be smooth in my backpedal and moving toward the ball or backwards. It's really important to playing the position I play."

Epenesa played most of the season on the weakside, but this fall he could end up leading the defense from the inside spot.

"Last year I played mostly outside, but sometimes, when your middle linebacker needed a breather, they moved me inside," Epenesa said. "We have a few guys who can play outside linebacker so they might move me inside because of depth. If that happens, I'll be all good, but I really like weakside linebacker because I like to use my strength (325 bench) and instincts to get to the ball."

Last year for the Olympians, Epenesa had a huge season posting 103 tackles (67 solo), one interception, one fumble return for a touchdown and seven passes broken up.

"They didn't blitz me much, so I didn't get any sacks, but I can rush the quarterback," Epenesa said.

On the recruiting front, Epenesa is hearing from Oregon State, Middle Tennessee, Utah and Akron, but he said he's hoping to hear from more down the road.

"My coaches said things will pick up next month," Epenesa said. "All of the schools recruiting me like me as an outside linebacker. They like my instincts and I'm working hard on my speed (currently a 4.7 in the forty) and I think they will like my intensity and skills."

Epenesa will graduate in December and he'll have three years to play two wherever he ends up.

We'll continue to follow his progress over the coming weeks and months and update news as it happens.

Tony Epenesa Scout Profile

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