Isaiah Epps looks to make the most of his senior season


Kentucky wide receiver Isaiah Epps (81) runs down field during UK’s home opener against Louisiana Monroe on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 45-10. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Barkley Truax

Kentucky’s wide receiver room is deeper than fans thought.

While the one-two punch of Wan’Dale Robinson and Josh Ali combined for 261 yards receiving, senior wide receiver Isaiah Epps had the game of his career as well, hauling in three passes for 83 yards.

“I just have a lot of confidence right now,” Epps said. “I’ve been in the program a few years, [I’m] pretty smart. I can pick up things pretty quick … that’s where it all comes from, just having confidence in myself and my teammates around me.”

Epps redshirted his junior reason due to a left foot fracture suffered during fall camp in 2019. He suited up last season, but was only targeted eight times for 63 yards and saw action in just six games.

I don’t really have that much time and there’s no time to waste,” Epps said. “[I] kind of have to get over some of those fears and make sure I’m staying in the training room and just doing everything on my end so that I can play with my brothers out there on Saturdays.”

Epps said that he had to keep his head down, stay the course and make sure he stayed around the team so he wouldn’t fall behind. He was never used to staying on the sidelines. One procedure led to another, extending his time away from the program.

“Toward the end [of my injury], whenever I had to have a second operation, I kind of got a little weary,” he said. “I put all my trust in God and just believe in his plan and there’s not much that I can do.” 

In one game, Epps has surpassed his receiving totals from 2020 — with just three catches, including one for 57 yards.

It felt good,” Epps said about the catch. “It’s been a long time coming. I mean, we’ve been open on some deep balls in the past and stuff, being unable to connect, but [Levis’] trust in me and just [his] accuracy and stuff felt good to finally connect to make a big play.”

Epps said it was a better throw, rather than a better catch. He said ULM’s cloud coverage on that particular play made it hard for Levis to find him on the far side of the field. The fact that the two could connect on a play like that speaks not only to Levis’ arm talent, but their chemistry as well.

“With [Levis], you always have to stay alive [in your route],” he said. “You know he has a cannon, so no matter how far you are down the field, he’s always gonna find you. He goes through his progressions pretty well, so you always got to stay alive and can expect the ball.”

Levis had one of the most incredible games on paper of any Kentucky quarterback in their debut with the program. The Penn State transfer threw for 367 yards on 18-26 passing and four touchdowns.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Epps said. “He’s made some strides since he’s been here but like I said, just knowing that he’s gonna find me and that I can just do my job and then he’s gonna do his and somewhere along the lines — we’ll meet up and make plays.”

The great thing, Epps said about the receiving room, is that everyone is capable of making plays — something that suits Kentucky well heading into week two in a packed Kroger Field against Missouri.

“It doesn’t matter who’s making the plays,” Epps said. “We’re all really close. We’re all basically family so, whether it’s Wan’Dale [Robinson] catching the touchdown, myself, Josh [Ali] or the tight ends — you’re always gonna see us cheer for the next guy.”