When there was a coaching change at SMU, Michael Epley thought it was time to make a change for himself.
Epley, who is from the Austin area, had a couple of teammates who were former Apaches and directed him toward Tyler Junior College.
“After my redshirt year, the coaches who recruited me left,” Epley said of the June Jones staff on the Hilltop. “The new coaches (coach Chad Morris’ staff) came in and things just didn’t pan out.”
When he told former TJC standouts Caleb Tuiasosopo and Matt Davis that he was considering leaving the program and was looking around, the two sang the praises of their alma mater.
“I told Caleb and Matt I wanted to make a transition and start a new journey,” said the 6-3, 255-pound Apache defensive end. “They told me all about Tyler Junior College.”
TJC coach Danny Palmer and defensive coordinator Russell Thompson are happy Epley found the Rose City.
“I’ve got everyone in the world calling about Michael,” Palmer said.
Epley, who graduated from Leander High School and picked SMU over Rice during his senior year, transferred to TJC in the spring. He played in four games for the Mustangs last year. His last game action was Oct. 24 against South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
To say the least, he was anxious to get back on the field.
On Saturday, the Apaches played a little over a quarter against the Kilgore College Rangers before lightning canceled the game.
“We were disappointed we didn’t get to play a full game, but we have an early turnaround (playing Texas A&T on Thursday at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium),” said Epley, who was All-CenTex first team and academic all-district first team while at Leander. “I felt like the defense had some good times (against Kilgore). We probably could have been better at other times. We should have created a turnover or two, but overall I think the defense would have been pretty good if the game had continued.”
Thompson said the Apache defense was playing well and gave up one big play, a 66-yard run by Tyreik Gray. The Rangers gained 112 yards and just three first downs, one of which was by penalty. TJC also gave up a 100-yard kickoff return by Anthony Thomas.
Epley, whose parents are Mike and Gina Epley of Cedar Park, has three sisters - Sara (22), Shelby (sophomore in HS) and Abby (sixth-grader).