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Edwardsville grad A.J. Epenesa declares for NFL Draft

Defensive end A.J. Epenesa #94 of the Iowa Hawkeyes puts pressure in the first half on quaterback Brett Gabbert #5 of the Miami Ohio RedHawks on August 31, 2019 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS – University of Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (Edwardsville High School) announced Tuesday he will skip his senior season and declared for the 2020 NFL Draft.

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Thank you Hawkeye Nation!

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Epenesa, 21, just completed his second straight season as an All-Big Ten first-team performer and earned second-team All-American honors from the Associated Press, Walter Camp, and the AFCA. He had nine sacks in the 2019 regular season, his first as a Hawkeye starter and added 2.5 more in a dominating performance in the San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl against USC.

He had a conference-high of 10.5 sacks as a Sophomore in 2018.

Several mock drafts already have Epenesa in the top half of the first round, with many seeing him as the second-best edge pass rusher after Ohio State’s Chase Young.

Epenesa joins fellow Metro East prep alum, University of Miami wide receiver Jeff Thomas (East. St. Louis), who announced he would make himself available for the NFL draft.

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