STILLWATER — Evan Epstein, a walk-on from McKinney, Texas, was recently placed on scholarship. Projected to be Oklahoma State's starting center, Epstein appeared in five games last season.
Epstein started his career at Air Force but transferred to OSU and sat out the 2009 season. Ranked by ESPN as the nation's No. 14 center coming out of high school, Epstein saw action in three games his sophomore season at OSU.
Q: Having been in the program three years, how much help can you give freshman quarterback Wes Lunt?
A: “It seems everyone asks me that question. I'm going to provide help to whoever is back there, whether it's a freshman or any of the other guys.”
But with Lunt being named the starter, you can provide insight into the challenges of Division I football.
“Definitely. Wes and I are constantly talking about how we can improve our tempo, improve our calls, just improve the offense overall. He's the guy right now and I'm the guy at center. That's obviously a key connection. We need to be friends and be able to work together on and off the field. It's been a work in progress since the spring, and it will continue to be a work in progress through fall camp. Hopefully by the time the season starts we'll be on the same page.”
How confident are you that the offense can continue to perform at a high level despite replacing most of the line?
“There may be a lot of new faces as far as who is starting, but we're not new faces as far as working together. Most of us have been here a lot of years. We know each other well. We're really good friends. I think we work really well together. I wouldn't be surprised if this offensive line... I'm going to be so bold as to say it's going to be as good as the previous offensive line. Coach (Joe) Wickline is the man when it comes to coaching the offensive line. I would like to think he could coach anyone to become a great offensive line. We're going to do the best job we possibly can, and I would like to think it's going to be really good.”
What makes Wickline such an effective offensive line coach?
“Coach Wickline is one of those old-school, gritty offensive line coaches. For the group of guys that we have we wouldn't want any other O-line coach. He gets us going. We absolutely love him.”
His reputation is he can crack a joke or two.
“He has his jokes every now and then. We absolutely hate him sometimes, but we love him at the end of the day because he gets us right.”
What did it mean to you and your family to be given a scholarship?
“It means a lot for me and my family, obviously with the financial assistance. I never wanted them to help me pay for school. It hasn't been easy to come up with the money to pay for school, but I love Oklahoma State and I love playing football here. It was never going to be a problem, but it's nice to be able to help my parents. And it's nice to know all my hard work is being rewarded. I feel I've been doing the right things.”
When you left Air Force, what were your options?
“It was Oklahoma State, possibly go to a junior college. Since I'm from Dallas, coming to Oklahoma State was one of the first times I had ever been to Oklahoma.”
Why did you choose Oklahoma State?
“Coach Wickline recruited me coming out of high school. I knew what kind of guy he was. I knew he was a great guy, the kind of coach I wanted to play for. He told me: ‘We can't offer you a scholarship, but if you want to walk on we'd love to have you here.' I said, ‘Let's go.'”