By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine
I went to an Airline game in 2019 and saw a 5-7, 175-pound freshman come down on special teams and just fly through and make plays. I remember asking the coach on the sideline what grade this kid was, because I did not have a roster and he said, ‘’a freshman.’’ I said, “No way! Kid can play some football.”
Speed up to the present and that little “kid” is Justin Epps, a three-year starter and team leader, and now he’s in the let’s say “5-9, 200 pounds of muscle and jet speed” on the field as a football player. Also, about to become a rare four-year letterman in Class 5A football.
I really mean this: seems like I have seen him play now for like six years. He is a tackling machine and doesn’t know the phrase “half speed” as he’s all full throttle on the field. He’s the kind of player when you watch film, you tell your running backs and wide receivers to go the other direction to stay away from him because he’s going to make the tackle if you come in his area of the field. I love this kid’s game. I think he’s a Division II star or Division III steal. He could go FCS as a walk-on who would end up starting over bigger kids in the end because he can run and plays the game tough, intense and fast. Love his 4.6 speed, and he looks faster in uniform. Plus, he’s strong in pads.
Another reason he’s a steal and sleeper: because of an injury, he played in only three games in 2021 and had 13 tackles and one forced fumble.
Airline head coach Justin Scogin says Epps’ athleticism sets him apart from others.
“Justin is a selfless player that always does the right thing,” said Scogin. “He’s been injured in the offseason and has never missed a workout or any team activity. Justin is a physical player that can fill the hole or be solid dropping into coverage. His athleticism sets him apart and will continue to pay dividends at the next level for him.”
“What I love most about the game of football is the life lessons that can be learned while playing and the competition,” said Epps.
His list of favorite colleges is LSU, Jackson State and Southern. “I’ve been an LSU fan since the age of 6. Jackson State is a favorite of mine because of the culture and history there. A lot of my family went to school at Southern University in Baton Rouge.”
Notes on Justin Epps: In the classroom he has a 3.1 GPA and a score of 19 on his ACT.
Football and family: “My dad, Justin Epps Sr., played football in high school at Northwood and his positions were fullback and linebacker. My uncle, Myron Epps, played football at Northwood also and he played wingback and safety.”
Hobbies are working out, hanging out with friends and swimming.
Contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org