WSU senior has big-league dreams

(Source: Robert Casey)
Weber State University football player Tony Epperson punts the ball in a game against the University of Utah. Epperson looks to try out for the NFL after he graduates from WSU.

After his time at Weber State University has ended, one Wildcat has big-league aspirations. WSU punter Tony Epperson, a business administration major, looks to enter the NFL draft when his time at WSU is through.

“I have a lot of people around that think I have that ability to go to the next level,” Epperson said. “That’s a personal goal that I’m going to work towards. I punted a lot this summer. That’s what I’ve been working towards.”

Before last football season started, former WSU head coach Jody Sears praised Epperson and his abilities.

“If you had watched him punt, the kid’s got a major-league leg now,” he said. “I’m not an expert in the NFL at all, by any stretch, but I do know one thing: (With) the numbers he was putting up and the consistency that he was kicking that thing in games, he is a legit guy. He’s got some good numbers.”

Tony Epperson punter
(Source: Robert Casey)
Weber State University football player Tony Epperson punts the ball in a game against Eastern Washington University. Epperson finished his career at WSU as the career leader in punt average.

Epperson led the nation in punting during the 2012 season, his first season as punter, with an average of 48 yards per punt before he suffered a season-ending injury.

“It was my first year really punting,” Epperson said. “But that also kind of made it like ‘you could possibly do this after college.’ It’s definitely a goal of mine. It’s nothing I’m banking on, by any means, but it is for sure something I want to work towards. If I work towards that, that means that I will be getting better during college and will be helping this team out.”

Over the summer, Epperson worked out for a few days with Tom Bruin, a family friend and an NFL trainer who lives in Phoenix, Ariz. Bruin helped Epperson with a few minor details, but mostly just gave support.

“I never really had a specific punting coach that taught me; I always just kind of did it,” Epperson said. “He didn’t try to really coach me; it was more of just hanging out, and he pointed a couple things out, like how to drop it. It was just little things; he wasn’t trying to change anything, which I liked.”

Epperson went on to have another successful season for the Wildcats. This year, he focused strictly on punting after playing safety for his first three seasons. The Park City native recorded 101 punts, setting an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision record.

In his final game against Idaho State University, Epperson recorded the two longest punts in WSU history, an 86-yard punt and an 84-yarder. He ended his career averaging 43.6 yards per punt, finishing as WSU’s career leader in punt average.

Epperson did kickoffs when he was in little league football. He didn’t begin punting until his junior year of high school.

“We had tryouts, which basically means ‘everybody get in a line and kick a ball and see,'” said Epperson, laughing. “I kicked one really good, I never really thought about it, and Coach said, ‘OK, you’re our punter.’ So I did. I didn’t get recruited as a punter by any means, but my head coach in high school told Weber when they recruited me, ‘Hey, he can punt too.'”

Epperson then landed under the direction of Jake Cookus, who coached both safeties and special teams.

“Luckily, my position coach was also the special teams coach then, so I was his safety guy and he said, ‘Now you can be my punter. We’ll have an athletic punter. Let’s do this,’” Epperson recalled. “So I kind of got shoved into the role. I became the starting punter last season against Fresno State. I didn’t really punt a lot during camp and they just threw me in. I’ve kind of flown with that since.”

Epperson looks to be the first Wildcat drafted in the NFL since the Detroit Lions drafted wide receiver Tim Toone as the 255th and final pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. At the very least, he said, he hopes to make it into some football camps and show his skills.