Illinois Iowa Football

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa celebrates during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 19-10. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa will enter the NFL draft after two of the most dominant performances of his career.

Epenesa posted his decision on his Instagram page Tuesday, writing that his time with the Hawkeyes was everything he hoped it would be.

“Over the last three years I have had the amazing opportunity to play for the University of Iowa,” he wrote. “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 was an Associated Press second-team All-American and an AP All-Big Ten first-team pick. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior from Glen Carbon, Illinois, led the Big Ten with 10.5 sacks as a backup in 2018. This season, he had 11.5, making him the first Iowa player with double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons since 2002-03.

He made a career-high 14 tackles with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in a win at Nebraska, and followed that with 2.5 sacks and defensive MVP honors in a Holiday Bowl win over Southern California.

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