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The big catch

With commitments from four instate players, Iowa was already off to a solid start in piecing together its 2017 football recruiting class. Securing a commitment from one of the country's top prospects in A.J. Epenesa on Sunday only added the promise of a recruiting class the Hawkeyes won't sign for another 54 weeks. Ranked as a top-30 recruit nationally by all of the major scouting services, Epenesa will likely end up as the highest-ranked recruit to sign with Iowa in Kirk Ferentz's tenure as the program's head coach. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound junior at Edwardsville High School in suburban St. Louis is what Iowa likes in its recruits, an exception multi-sport athlete whose abilities beyond the confines of the football field define why Epenesa had his choice of nearly every program in the country. Beyond his skills as a defensive end, and strength that makes him a school-record holder in the discus, Epenesa's athletic ability make him a force on state-ranked basketball team. He leads Edwardsville in both scoring and rebounding, displaying good foot speed for an athlete of his size as well as a good shooting touch. Epenesa has everything a college program looks for in a defensive end today. He has size. He has quickness. He has flexibility and has demonstrated that he can move. He has a great future and will only develop further once he becomes a regular in Chris Doyle's strength and conditioning program. Epenesa demonstrated something perhaps more important in reaching his decision now and in how he delivered that decision to Iowa coaches. He was surrounded by his entire family when he told coach Kirk Ferentz on Sunday that he was committing. The son of former Hawkeye defensive tackle Epenesa Epenesa posed for a picture with his parents, brothers and sister taken during the family's visit to Iowa City on Sunday. As was the case when his sister, Sam, committed to play volleyball at Purdue, the entire family was present when A.J. Epenesa announced that he would follow in his father's footsteps and play for Iowa. He has watched games at Kinnick Stadium since he was in elementary school and his commitment is not only about fulfilling his own dream of one day playing for Iowa but about having an opportunity to help the Hawkeye program continue to grow. His early commitment facilitates that. It will provide Iowa with some early momentum in recruiting and should help attract other top players to the program. Epenesa joins four linemen and a tight end in as the initial members of the Hawkeyes' 2017 recruiting class, a statement of where Iowa's initial priorities in recruiting are at as they continue to build off of the momentum started on the field in 2015 with a run to the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl. The big catch that Epenesa provides allows Iowa to build off of that success even before its 2016 recruiting class signs on the bottom line in a little over two weeks.

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