BOWIE – Since the days of Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Fran Tarkenton, the dual-threat quarterback is something every coach dreams of having. With the evolution of football over the years, a quarterback capable of keeping plays alive with his mobility, while providing headaches and nightmares for opposing coaches and defenses, has become the standard. How does […]
BOWIE – Since the days of Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Fran Tarkenton, the dual-threat quarterback is something every coach dreams of having.
With the evolution of football over the years, a quarterback capable of keeping plays alive with his mobility, while providing headaches and nightmares for opposing coaches and defenses, has become the standard.
How does this happen for a quarterback? Is it coaching? Is it talent? Or is it instilled at a young age?
For Bowie quarterback Jason Epps, it is all of the above.
At only 17 years of age, Epps is practically an anomaly. Standing an imposing six-foot-four, and weighing in at 195 pounds, the senior right-hander is the prototype of a pure pocket passer. However, he also runs a 4.85 40-yard-dash. Epps has made numerous plays with his legs and has high school coaches drawing comparisons to NFL stars such as Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, and even Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger.
But how did it all start for the area’s current leader in passing yards?
Anthony Epps, Jason’s father, was a standout football player at Friendly High School and played every position from wide receiver to punter. As an all-around athlete, he continued his football career at Towson University.
His mother, Vikki, was also an exceptional athlete in cross country and track and field and was elected to the Towson Hall of Fame in 2005. She was the East Coast Conference (ECC) cross country champion in 1991, becoming the only member of Towson to win an individual title in cross country.
It is easy to see that both parents have been huge influences on Epps’ life as an athlete.
“Jason always liked football. I played college football and he wanted to do nothing but that,” Anthony said. “He’d be in the yard by himself with a football just throwing it up and catching it for hours. He would also watch all the games with me. He just loved the game.”
At six-years-old, Epps took the field for the first time at the South Bowie Boys and Girls Club, but he did not start at quarterback. It was not until age seven that Epps was placed at quarterback; the position he has been at ever since.
“He was always a bigger kid, taller than everyone else, so they put him on the line,” Anthony said. “He actually started out at center. One day he threw a K2 ball about 40 yards and his coach looked at me and said, ‘He can throw like that? Why didn’t you tell me?’ From there on he was a quarterback.”
From that point on, Anthony helped his son evolve into the quarterback he is today. By keeping his son well prepared and ahead of the curve, Epps only got better.
“We started watching film and scouting teams. We taped other team’s games, as well as his own and worked on the mistakes he made and his decision making.” Anthony said.
Watching and dissecting film quickly grew on Epps and has become something he can’t get enough of. Film study is something that is usually overlooked, however being able to see things before they happen is a reason Epps is where he is today.
“I started at South Bowie and I’ve been playing every year since I was six,” Epps said. “I’ve always been confident and my focus is to be the best I can be. Studying film is one of my favorite things to do.”
Epps leads the Prince George’s area in passing yards with 1,948 and is in the top 10 in both completions (seventh, 108) and attempts (eighth, 183). He also ranks second in passing touchdowns with 29.
Epps is also the leader for Bowie High School, who boasts a 6-1 record after an impressive 46-8 victory over High Point this past weekend. He contributed five first-half touchdowns and finished the day early after completing 7-of-10 attempts for 139 yards. True to dual-threat form, he also accounted for 44 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Bowie’s only loss this season came against Eleanor Roosevelt.
“We got overconfident and just kind of looked past them,” Epps said. “We learned a lot from that game and are completely focused now.”
Up next for Epps and the Bulldogs is unbeaten Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. (7-0), in what will be a huge test for the Bulldogs. Wise has only allowed 26 points all season, which is something Epps is accustomed to doing by halftime.
“We just have to stay focused. As long as there is time on the clock, we have a chance to win,” Epps said. “We just have to go and get the job done.”
While there is only about a month and a half left in Epps high school career, he has already begun thinking about the future. He has a list of schools he would like to attend, with one of them being his parents’ alma mater: Towson.
“Both of my parents went to Towson. My mom is in the hall of fame, so it’s definitely in my top five.” Jason said.
Anthony said there is an inside joke between himself and current Towson football coach Rob Ambrose whenever Epps attends a game.
“I got your next quarterback here whenever you’re ready for him,” Anthony joked.
If Epps can keep doing what he’s been doing, both on and off the field, there should be plenty of schools knocking on his door in the near future.
“My dream is to attend college on a scholarship,” Epps said. “My education is important and I know football is a way to further it.”