Iowa's Epenesa, Wirfs Declare for the NFL Draft

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FILE – In this Jan. 1, 2019, file photo, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) strips the ball from Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) causing a fumble during the first half of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game, in Tampa, Fla. Iowa junior A.J. Epenesa knows that he has a strong shot at being picked in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft should he choose to go pro next spring. He’s just choosing not to think about it until then. Epenesa, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound defensive end who led the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks a year ago despite coming off the bench, is poised for a monster season in 2019. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

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IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa has declared for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Epenesa made the announcement in a social media post on Tuesday.

He wrote, “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. After long discussion with my parents and loved ones I have decided to follow another childhood dream and enter into the 2020 NFL Draft.”

Epenesa, a native of Glen Carbon, Illinois, recorded 11.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and 49 tackles last season for Iowa. He is projected to be a first round draft pick, according to a mock draft from Bleacher Report.

Offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs also announced Tuesday he is entering the NFL Draft.

“Thank you to Coach Ferentz for believing in a kid from Mt. Vernon and giving me the opportunity to live out my dream,” Wirfs said in the announcement on social media.

Wirfs is also projected to be a first round draft pick.

Epenesa and Wirfs weren't the only Hawkeye football players on Tuesday to announce they will not be returning in 2020. Running back Toren Young says he will forgo his final year of eligibility.

Young plans to graduate in the spring and then prepare for his “professional life both on and off of the field.” He rushed for 432 yards and a touchdown on 81 carries this past season.

Iowa junior safety Geno Stone also declared for the NFL Draft earlier this month.

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