Aderius Epps, a former Cedar Hill offensive lineman who spent the first two years of his college career at Kansas State, confirmed Tuesday morning that he plans to transfer to North Texas.
Epps visited UNT over the weekend and said that he is enrolling at the school, a process that must be completed for the transfer to become official.
Epps said he hopes to begin participating in practice within three weeks. UNT opened fall practice Monday.
“The main factor is family,” Epps said of the reason he is transferring. “My sister [Destiny Epps] is on top of the heart transplant list in the Dallas area. She is 25 and has congestive heart failure. I felt like I need to be closer to my family and want to have them be able to come see me play. My family are my biggest fans. I wanted them to be able to see me in action just like they did in high school.”
Epps, who is 6-1 and 311 pounds, spent the 2012 season as a redshirt at Kansas State before playing in two games as a backup last season.
Epps said he will apply to the NCAA for a hardship waiver based on his sister’s condition that would make him immediately eligible at UNT. He would have three years of eligibility remaining beginning this season if he receives a waiver.
There also is a possibility that Epps sits out the 2014 season as a transfer. He would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning next season.
UNT offensive coordinator Mike Canales recruited Epps and is helping him through the transfer process.
UNT plans to play Epps at guard or center. The Mean Green has two preseason All-Conference USA guards in Cyril Lemon and Mason Y’Barbo, who are seniors. Center Kaydon Kirby is a sophomore.
Epps could compete to move into the lineup in place of Lemon or Y’Barbo in 2015.
Epps emerged as a top player in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at Cedar Hill under Joey McGuire and was a first team all-district selection as a senior, when he finished third at the regional powerlifting meet and served as a captain of the basketball team. He was a four-year letterman and was ranked No. 46 on The Dallas Morning News list of the top 100 college football prospects in the area during his senior season.
“He’s a great kid from a great family,” McGuire said.
Epps got in touch with McGuire and his staff after deciding to leave Kansas State. He began discussing transferring to UNT with the Mean Green’s staff a short time later.
“They got some things going,” Epps said of his high school coaches. “After I was released, I contacted North Texas.”
Epps says he has improved from the experience of playing at Kansas State, even though he did not carve out a major role.
“I felt like a developed a lot with my strength, speed and technique,” Epps said. “I have improved on both run blocking and pass blocking.”
UNT has taken on several transfers during Dan McCarney’s tenure with the Mean Green that will extend to a fourth season this fall. Marcus Trice transferred to UNT from Oklahoma and went on to earn first-team All-Conference USA honors.
Former SMU offensive lineman Sam Rice transferred to UNT in February and will sit out the upcoming season. Rice is expected to contend for a starting job at guard after starting six games for SMU in 2013, including five at left guard.
The addition of Epps would give UNT another option as it looks to retool an offensive line that will lose three key players after the upcoming season in Lemon, Y’Barbo and tackle Antonio Johnson.
UNT has allowed just 17 sacks the last two seasons combined, the lowest total among teams playing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.
Epps will have an opportunity to help UNT build on its history of fielding a top offensive line while playing in front of friends and family after his transfer is complete.
“I am excited to be back home and be able to display my talents,” Epps said. “It gives me an opportunity with both their guards graduating.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-395-3987.