NCAA Football: Wyoming vs Colorado State

Former University of Wyoming safety Marcus Epps plays in a game Oct. 26 against Colorado State at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo.

LARAMIE – Marcus Epps came the University of Wyoming as a walk-on.

Saturday, he was a NFL draft pick.

The Minnesota Vikings selected Epps with the 19th pick in the sixth round – the 191st pick overall.

“I wasn’t surprised they drafted me. I was maybe a little surprised they got me in the sixth (round),” said Epps during a phone interview with WyoSports Sunday.

“I was hoping they would draft me. I had a lot of good conversations with (Vikings assistant coach) Jeff Howard for the past month. He told me how much he believed in me, and he liked my story. I’m glad it was able to all work out because that’s where I really wanted to go.”

Epps is the first defensive back from UW drafted since Marqueston Huff was taken in the fourth round by the Tennessee Titans in 2014. UW has had at least one player drafted the last three years. That hasn't happened since 1995-97.

Epps was a three-year captain at UW. The Los Angeles product finished his career with 325 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 30 pass break ups and nine interceptions.

Last season, Epps was third for UW with 63 tackles, had 6.5 tackles for loss and a team-high eight pass break-ups.

"He is very instinctive, and we spent a lot of time with him on the film, the evaluation and in the group studies to bring in probably another special team player with high character and who is a very good football player," said Minnesota general manger Rick Spielman during a news conference Saturday.

The last time Minnesota drafted a UW player was in 2001 when it took defensive end Patrick Chukwurah in the fifth round and 157th overall pick.

Epps didn't play in any of the postseason college all-star games, but impressed NFL scouts with his measurable at UW's pro day in early March. Epps ran 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.09 in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.73 in the 3-cone drill. Epps also had a 38.5-inch vertical leap, went 10-4 in the broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times.

“I had a lot of interest (from NFL teams) even before pro day, but there were questions about my running and my athleticism,” Epps said. “I was able to answer those questions at pro day, and from there the interest really ramped up.”

Epps said the outpouring of support from friends, family and former UW teammates and coaches since he was drafted was overwhelming.

“My phone was freezing up (Saturday) I was getting so many texts and notifications on social media. It’s been pretty awesome to see,” he said.

Epps, who was home in Los Angeles for the draft, said he flies out Thursday to attend the Vikings’ rookie mini-camp.

Epps was the only UW player drafted this year, and one of 10 Mountain West.

Seven other UW players either signed as free agents or agreed to attend rookie mini-camps with NFL teams on Saturday.

– Tight end Austin Fort, Denver Broncos.

– Tight end Tyree Mayfield, defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu and defensive back Chavez Pownell Jr., San Francisco 49ers.

– Running back Nico Evans, Philadelphia Eagles.

– Defensive end Carl Granderson, New Orleans Saints.

– Safety Andrew Wingard, Jacksonville Jaguars.

“It is awesome to see the guys I’ve spent so much time with and created a brotherhood with over the last four our five years get their chance,” Epps said. “I fully believe in them, and I’ve seen first-hand what they can do. I am excited for them and It truly believe they are going to make a splash.”

Robert Gagliardi is the WyoSports senior editor. He can be reached at rgagliardi@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @rpgagliardi.

I am the senior sports editor of WyoSports, the combined efforts of the sports departments of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne and Laramie Boomerang. I primarily cover University of Wyoming sports.

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