The latest episode in the saga that has been the Idaho Vandals’ football season involves the punishment of senior wide receiver Dezmon Epps, or as some see, the lack of a proper one.
Epps has seen his fair share of off-field issues, most recently last week’s news that he was one of the players involved in a theft at the on-campus book store Aug. 16. Coach Paul Petrino said after Saturday’s 59-9 loss at USC he made the decision to suspend him “in early August,” but on Tuesday said he made the decision right after the incident. Epps did play in Idaho’s Sept. 3 opener against Ohio, however.
Petrino defended his choice to suspend the team’s top receiver for the game against the Trojans.
“Because that was the game that hurt him the most,” Petrino said. “Growing up in California, that’s the game he dreamed about playing in, wanting to be in that Coliseum.”
Epps will play Saturday in the Kibbie Dome against Wofford, Petrino said. The Sacramento native led Idaho with 980 receiving yards in 2013 but was not on the team last season. Against Ohio, Epps had 15 catches for 160 yards.
Petrino said “there are definitely concerns” with Epps’ repeated problems, starting with a DUI in April of 2014, a theft charge three months later, and then an incident this summer when he spent two days in jail for not using a court-mandated interlock device in his car. He’s had more chances than most, but Petrino said he’s on his last chance. He wouldn’t elaborate on what Epps must do to stay with the team, but said it is a “day-to-day” process and will not return if he runs afoul of it.
“If Dezmon doesn’t do that, then he’ll no longer be with the team,” Petrino said.
From the coach’s point of view, he isn’t ready to cut loose a player he thinks has potential on and off the field.
“I’ve been talking with him a lot — I meet with him daily now,” Petrino said. “He’s doing a lot of things where we’re trying to help him. Part of being a head coach in this world, as much as it coaching on the field, is try to help kids try and become better people so they’ll be successful in life and that’s what I’m trying to do with everything I’ve got.”
NOTES: True freshman Kareem Coles, a high school quarterback and backup in fall camp, played some receiver against the Trojans, a spot he will play the rest of the season. “He’s too good of an athlete to be standing on the sideline,” Petrino said. ... Junior Jacob Sannon, who led the Vandals with nine catches and 79 yards at USC, has a groin injury and is day-to-day.