IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa sophomore defensive end A.J. Epenesa has been named Big Ten Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week following Iowa’s 63-0 win at Illinois. The announcement was made Monday by the Big Ten office.
The honor marks the second weekly honor for Epenesa, who was also recognized by the Big Ten for his play in Iowa’s win over Iowa State. The native of Glen Carbon, Illinois (Edwardsville HS), recorded a career-best eight tackles at Illinois, including five solo stops and three assists.
Epenesa (6-foot-5, 277-pounds) caused an Illinois fumble in the second quarter and returned the ball 19 yards for his first career touchdown. On Illinois’ next possession, he registered a sack on first down before blocking the Illinois punt three plays later. Teammate Nick Niemann recovered the blocked punt and Iowa scored on the very next play to take a 28-0 advantage.
For the day Epenesa recorded 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, forced and recovered one fumble, one pass break-up, and a QB pressure to go with the blocked punt. For the season Epenesa has 13.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He ranks second in the Big Ten in sacks.
The honor for Epenesa is the fourth Big Ten weekly recognition for Iowa this season. Along with Epenesa’s earlier award, defensive end Anthony Nelson was recognized following Iowa’s win at Minnesota and quarterback Nate Stanley received offensive honors for his play at Indiana.
The Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-4) host Nebraska (4-7, 3-5) for Senior Day on Friday (11:05 a.m., FOX) in the annual Heroes Game.