One in a series of looks at the Iowa football program’s 2017 recruiting class, position by position:
Levi Duwa, 6-3, 235, Kalona, Iowa (Mid-Prairie HS)
A.J. Epenesa, 6-5, 270, Edwardsville, Ill. (Edwardsville HS)
Daviyon Nixon, 6-5, 290, Kenosha, Wis. (Indian Trail HS)
LEVI DUWA: Led Iowa Class 2A in sacks during his junior season at Mid-Prairie. … A three-time all-district selection despite missing the second half of senior season because of injury … Recorded 20 solo tackles and 19 assists in five games as a senior with the Golden Hawks. … Counted 11.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss among 75 tackles he recorded as a junior. … Had 60 tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss, as a sophomore in addition to leading the team with 13 receptions for 186 yards and four touchdowns. … Finished second in the Iowa Class 1A state wrestling tournament as a junior. … Was the third-place finisher in the shot put at both the Drake Relays and the Iowa Class 2A state track and field championships as a junior.
A.J. EPENESA: Three-time first-team all-state selection and four-time all-conference selection for Edwardsville. … Competed in both the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and Polynesian Bowl following his senior season, earning defensive MVP honors in the Polynesian Bowl where he recorded two sacks among five tackles and forced two fumbles. … Had 13 tackles for a loss, five sacks, 14 quarterback pressures in addition to recording 57 tackles during his senior season. ... Blocked nine kicks last fall as a senior at Edwardsville. … Earned prep all-American honors in football and track. … Established an Illinois Class 3A state record when he threw the discus 205 feet, 11 inches in the 2016 state championships. … Has topped 1,000 career points in basketball. …. Father Epenesa Epenesa lettered as a defensive lineman for Iowa in 1997.
DAVIYON NIXON: Was a four-year letterwinner in football at Indian Trail High School, where he competed as both a tackle and end. … Forced four fumbles and counted seven tackles for a loss among 37 tackles in eight games during his senior season, earning first-team all-conference honors. … Was selected as the most improved player on his high school team in both his junior and senior seasons. … Collected 34 solo tackles and seven assists in nine games during his junior year, including six tackles for a loss and four sacks. He also forced five fumbles. … Is a four-year letterwinner in basketball.
Coach Kirk Ferentz on A.J. Epenesa:
“He’s a good football player, but my sister could tell you that, pretty good athlete, too. But, he’s a real poised guy, very humble. He’s been raised the right way. He’s got a great support network at home, at school. He’s never been, at least from my vantage point, never been impressed with the whole thing, the process, just taking it day by day and has been unwavering in terms of his commitment, which we appreciated. It says a lot about him and his family.’’
Coach Kirk Ferentz on Daviyon Nixon, who made a signing-day decision to join Iowa’s 2017 class:
“We had been in on him for a long time. We talk honestly to the prospects. We really do. We try to let them know what we’re thinking all along and what our process will be and then they make the choice to stay with us or get off the train.’’
Starters: DE Parker Hesse, junior; DE Anthony Nelson, sophomore; RT Nathan Bazata, senior
Back-ups: DE Matt Nelson, junior; LT Cedrick Lattimore, sophomore; DE Sam Brincks, junior
Chauncey Golston, redshirt freshman
Cedrick Lattimore, sophomore
Romeo McKnight, redshirt freshman
Austin Schulte, redshirt freshman
Brandon Simon, redshirt freshman