IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football team set a school single-season record by winning 12 games this past season.
That success is now paying dividends in recruiting in a big way as star prospect A.J. Epenesa announced on Twitter on Sunday that he made a verbal commitment to Iowa.
Epenesa, a five-star defensive end from Edwardsville, Ill., is the son of former Iowa defensive lineman Epenesa Epenesa.
Iowa’s connection to the Epenesa family certainly helped seal the deal. But A.J. Epenesa also told allhawkeyes.com in early September that he wanted to play for a winning program in college.
In addition to winning 12 games this past season, Iowa also won the Big Ten West Division and played in the Rose Bowl after struggling to a 7-6 record in 2014.
“This week me and my family have made the biggest decision in my life,” Epenesa wrote on Twitter. “It hjas been a long and hard road, but this morning my family and I have come together with all the coaches and told them that I am committing to the University of Iowa, we are so excited as a family.
“I want to give all the thanks to God for blessing me and keeping me safe all of this time. Thank you to everyone who has helped me to this point, it hasn’t been easy. But all of the hard work definitely pays off. It’s a great day to be a Hawkeye. Go Hawks!!!”
Epenesa is among a number of high school juniors who are in Iowa City today as part of a junior-day event.
Veteran recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said last week that he thought Iowa was the leader for Epenesa over Oklahoma. Lemming also said that Epenesa’s humble nature would fit better at Iowa than some of the other elite programs.
Epenesa is ranked by 247 Sports as a five-star recruit and the second best player in the 2017 class.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Epenesa is the fifth player to commit to Iowa’s 2017 recruiting class, and the first from out of state. The others are North Fayette defensive tackle Juan Harris, Madrid defensive end Coy Kirkpatrick, Mount Vernon offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs and Solon tight end Jacob Coons.