Last season, the passing game of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California) revolved around getting the ball to Bru McCoy.
With the 2019 Chosen 25 wide receiver now at USC, the Monarchs have adjusted this season’s game plans to spread the ball out to five different wide receivers. So far, it seems Kody Epps, the only senior of the group, has been the most reliable for quarterback Bryce Young in a core of strong options.
Epps is ranked as a three-star wide receiver on the 247Sports Composite and has six offers, according to 247Sports.
Mater Dei (4-0) is ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY High School Sports Super 25 rankings, and Epps leads the team with 26 receptions through four games, averaging 108.3 yards per contest. He led the team in receptions and yards against St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland) on Saturday, and was part of one of the more impressive plays of the season for Mater Dei in Week 3, catching a touchdown in the back of the end zone while rolling right with the scrambling quarterback.
I can see why Netflix QB1 following him all season. Bryce Young is amazing. 34-13 Mater Dei 5:05 2Q pic.twitter.com/tHYIj3fUMM
— Richard Obert (@azc_obert) September 7, 2019
All this is allowing him to do what universities told him was necessary to get their attention: Make plays, and be a leader.
“A lot of schools have just been talking about film. Just making plays on a consistent basis, being reliable,” Epps said. “A lot of coaches also have talked about being a leader. There’s still more to go and there will always be more to go, but I think as of now, I’m leading on the right foot.”
Wyoming had been giving Epps the most recruiting attention so far — “They’re pretty on me tough, and I love it” — and he is in communication with USC, though the Trojans have yet to offer him.
But all in all, he called recruitment “pretty slow.”
He’s not focused on the fact that he hasn’t picked up as many offers as many schools’ top receivers. Epps said he pushed recruitment to the side when the season started.
“Of course I love all the attention that I’m getting from coaches. It’s an honor. … But right now I’m just trying to help my team win,” Epps said. “We keep in contact, but I’m also letting them know they have to get back to their program so I understand where they are, cause they have to win games and I also have to win games.”
Epps might be the Monarchs’ top receiver, but there’s no clear pecking order to Mater Dei’s offense. The core is much more well-rounded than last season, when there was a clear-cut favorite target in McCoy.
While Epps leads the way, there are receiving threats around him. Sophomore CJ Williams, who ranks second on the team in catches and receiving yards, said he already has offers from USC, LSU, Michigan and Cal.
Junior Kyron Ware-Hudson has four touchdowns, second behind Epps, and Josiah Zamora and Cristian Dixon are also frequent targets of Young.
“I feel like we have five guys … who have a lot of big-play potential,” Young said. “Just the dynamics of knowing that we can put five guys out there in any position, and I have complete confidence in knowing that they’re going to get the job done. That’s something that’s really, really rare.”
As for Epps, the expectation is that more recruiting attention will come as long as he remains at the core of Mater Dei’s offense.
Then he’ll choose.
The networking system around the college is important to him. He hopes the school he ultimately selects has a good base so he can use it to grow should he decide to stay in the area after college.
Epps said he’s interested in studying architecture in college.
“I just like building things and be able to make a project, be able to please people with a project,” Epps said. “I’m into art like Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons, people like that.”
Until then, he has the remainder of this high school season. Mater Dei jumped to the No. 1 spot in the country this week, and Epps is at the center of the offense. Colleges, take note.
“Now I’m just playing,” Epps said. “Whoever wants to come along can come along.”