Senior | Information Systems & Management
It’s fourth down and Derek Epperson steps onto the football field. His performance is crucial – the entire team, coaches and fans are depending on his pinpoint accuracy of placing the ball exactly where it needs to go. The pressure mounts, but Epperson remains calm and focused for precise execution of the punt.
As Baylor’s starting punter, Epperson grew up actually kicking a soccer ball; however, he started kicking a football – and was good at it.
“I played on my high school football team and was offered a scholarship to attend Baylor and play football,” he said. “It was a great opportunity; Baylor was close to home and had a good academic reputation.”
Athletic genes run in the Epperson family: his mom is a former international trampolining competitor, his sister signed to play soccer for the University of Louisiana-Monroe, and his brother plays football as well – as the punter for Texas A&M University.
“I did play against my brother last season,” he said. “Some of my family members flew in for the game and made T-shirts that were half green and half maroon. My brother and I are competitive and both wanted to win, but we wanted to see each other do well. It’s a little surreal to see two siblings in the Big 12 that are both starters playing the same position.”
Epperson was recognized with various honors his freshman year and has racked up awards and nominations since then. He is a two-time watch list member (semifinalist in 2008) for the Ray Guy award, which honors the best collegiate punters in the nation. In 2009, he was named a mid-season All-American by CBSsports.com; projected a preseason All-American by Lindy’s, Rivals.com and Sporting News; and has consistently earned All-Big 12 honors throughout his career. Epperson has learned to master the juggling act of academics and athletics, holding a double major in Information Systems and Management, while being a three-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.
“My mom was a teacher, and I was always taught school comes first,” he said. “I took a lot of AP courses in high school, which helped me establish a good work ethic when I started at Baylor. I also think football helped me become more organized; it’s like working a full-time job with the hours we put in. It provides a structure for time management though. You have to be productive or you can get swamped if you’re taking challenging courses.”
As for the future, Epperson has been accepted to Baylor’s MBA program and has high hopes for playing in the NFL.
“If I’m given the opportunity to play in the NFL, it would be a blessing,” Epperson said. “But I do want to get my MBA so I have a good education and am able to have a successful career no matter what happens.”