Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa has made a decision on his future. One of the most dominant defensive ends in college football is headed to the 2020 NFL Draft.
Tuesday morning, Epenesa made his announcement official with a post to his Instagram account. The junior defensive lineman will forego his final season with the Hawkeyes and will pursue a future in professional future.
“Over the last three years I have had the amazing opportunity to play for the University of Iowa. I got to live my childhood dream and represent the black and gold,” Epenesa said in a statement. “After long discussion with my parents and loved ones I have decided to follow another childhood dream and enter into the 2020 NFL Draft.”
— Dustin Schutte (@SchutteCFB) January 14, 2020
Epenesa is projected to be a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Where he’ll land, however, has varied depending on the mock draft. Some expect him to be picked in the middle of the first round, while others project him to be near the end of the first round.
Obviously, Epenesa can still improve his stock during the NFL Combine.
Epenesa finished his junior campaign with 14.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks in 13 games. He also forced four fumbles and broke up three passes while finishing with 49 total stops. He was especially strong at the end of the season, registering 2.5 sacks against Minnesota, 2 more against Nebraska, and 2.5 sacks against USC in the Holiday Bowl.
Iowa finished the year on a four-game winning streak to end the season with a 10-3 record.
Epenesa leaves Iowa with 36.5 tackles for loss and 26.5 sacks while appearing in all 39 games since 2017. He also forced nine fumbles and scored one touchdown with the Hawkeyes.