Epenesa earns spot on Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List

A.J. Epenesa earned a preseason honor on Friday.

Iowa+defensive+lineman+AJ+Epenesa+celebrates+after+scoring+a+touchdown+on+a+fumble+return+during+Iowa%27s+game+against+Illinois+at+Memorial+Stadium+in+Champaign%2C+IL%2C+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+17%2C+2018.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Fighting+Illini+63-0.
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Epenesa earns spot on Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List

Iowa defensive lineman AJ Epenesa celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a fumble return during Iowa's game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 63-0.

Iowa defensive lineman AJ Epenesa celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a fumble return during Iowa's game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 63-0.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa defensive lineman AJ Epenesa celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a fumble return during Iowa's game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 63-0.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa defensive lineman AJ Epenesa celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a fumble return during Iowa's game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, IL, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 63-0.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa has been named to the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List, which honors the nation’s best defensive player.

Epenesa led the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks last season, which was also the 12th-most in the country. He also racked up 37 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and 4 passes defended. His performance earned him first-team All-Big Ten honors.

His season was highlighted at Illinois, when he finished with a career-best 8 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also blocked a punt, recovered the loose ball, and took it back for a touchdown.

He also picked up 2 sacks with a forced fumble against Iowa State on Sept. 8.

The Iowa defense has experience with the award, as former Hawkeye linebacker Josey Jewell won the Lott IMPACT Trophy in 2017.

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