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Pitt FB Recruiting

A Normal Guy Who Plays Football: Malcolm Epps Wants to Help On and Off the Field



Malcolm Epps knows what it’s like to be on top of the world, but he knows what it’s like when it feels like nothing will ever get better, too.

He certainly never thought his rollercoaster college experience would make its final stop in Pittsburgh, a city he had never even been to just a month ago. “But hey, everything happens for a reason,” he told PSN. He’s just happy to be here.

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Through the highs and lows, and especially the times he found himself in a rut mentally, he’s pushed through because he believes in himself.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but you gotta make sure whenever you go through your downs, you don’t stay down for too long,” Epps said. “Nobody’s perfect, you’re gonna mess up, so you gotta go through those rough times. But once you get to those rough times, you gotta get out of that slump as fast as possible.”

He’s believed in himself, sure, but he wouldn’t be where he is now — committed to Pitt as its newest tight end — without his family and his faith. Of course, he had the support of Pitt’s coaching staff, too.

When Epps entered the transfer portal last month, deciding it was time to leave USC and pursue a new opportunity, Tim Salem hit him up about a week later. He was on the phone with Salem and Pat Narduzzi immediately after. “I went up there for a visit, and the rest is history,” he said.

He flew out for Pitt’s final spring practice before the spring game, getting a chance to see a “beautiful” city for the very first time. He was quickly able to see just how the community supports not just Pitt football but football as a whole. It’s a passionate city. And the team itself provided the community and the opportunity he wanted.

“Just the culture and coach Narduzzi and coach Salem,” Epps said. “Really everybody. The guys at practice when I went to practice, I could just see myself fitting in with those guys really well.”

Epps was originally a four-star tight end out Houston, Texas in the class of 2018, a one-time Alabama commit that eventually stayed home at Texas. He’s played — and played well — at both USC and Texas over the last five seasons, but he hasn’t had the chance to put it all together on the field.

He’s recording 37 receptions for 483 yards (13 yards per reception) and seven touchdowns over four full seasons, fulfilling basically every role a tight end can in a college offense — playing extensively inline, in the slot and out wide. He can serve as an inline lead blocker and a jumbo receiver out wide.

His penchant for scoring touchdowns — 20% of his college receptions — has garnered a “red zone threat” label, but he wants to show he’s far more than just a jump ball artist. He wants to be the “plays every down” kind of tight end at Pitt.

“I’m an older guy, so I can come in, learn the playbook, learn the offense, block my tail off and catch a lot of passes,” Epps said. He wants to help the team win.

Whether it’s his willingness to line up inline and open a hole for Rodney Hammond Jr. as a lead blocker or his natural ability to use a 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame to jump over — or go through — opposing linebackers and safeties as a receiver, Epps is ready to showcase what he can do.

I, personally, believe his addition to the offense gives a much-needed level of versatility to both the tight ends room and the offense as a whole.

Epps is certainly eager to come back out to Pittsburgh on a permanent basis later this spring, and that stems from both his desire to mesh with his new teammates and prepare for his final season of college football but also his desire to show his appreciation to the coaching staff.

“It means a lot,” Epps said. “I’m just glad the coaches saw talent in me enough to give me an offer to come up there. So, I’m definitely going to have to repay their kindness with hard work and dedication.”

But while Epps’ arrival adds a veteran presence in the tight ends room, one who is able to create mismatches himself but also help allow his teammates to thrive, he’s excited for the community, too.

He’s felt the warm welcome from Pitt fans already, and he couldn’t be more grateful.

“I promise to do everything I can to not only help the football team but the community,” Epps said. “And hopefully, I get to go to the schools and meet the young, little kids and have a good time with them.

“It’s always more than football with me, especially with the new place I’m in. I just want to be there and be a good face around the community. I’m a normal person, I just play football.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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James Austin
1 year ago

I like it. He seems like a great addition to this team. The thing that I really like about Coach Narduzzi is he seems to value good character in his player’s as much as the athletic talent. I still think that the transfer portal needs to have better rules and stipulations. At the end of the day there should be something that teaches the value of commitment.

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