Click photo to enlarge
Tony Epperson prepares to launch a punt during a Weber State home game last season. Photo courtesy of Weber State Athletics

Tony Epperson, a 2010 Park City High School graduate, had a rough 2012-13 football season for the Weber State University football team.

Epperson, who played both safety and punter for the Wildcats, appeared in six games before having his season ended by a broken arm and a knee injury.

With Epperson's arm still not fully healed, the Weber State coaching staff has asked him to focus solely on punting for the 2013-14 campaign.

A "punting only" role might just land him on the All-American squad. After all, he was leading the nation in punting with a 48-yard average through six games last season before the injuries.

Epperson said he'll do everything he can to help his squad and earn national honors.

"I definitely think it's possible (to be an All-American)," he said. "I could have last year, but I had the knee injury. That's definitely a goal of mine."

He currently holds the school record for single-game punting average with a 55-yard average, set during last year's opener against McNeese State. He also launched a 74-yard punt against BYU, a personal record.

He'll miss playing defense, but he said he's been able to concentrate on other things so far this season.

"I focus more on leadership now," he said. "I can do stuff like that off the field now that I was always too tired, too sore or too busy with meetings and stuff to do before."

Epperson has lofty team goals too. It's his senior season, so he knows it's his last chance to win a Big Sky Conference title. But he understands there's a lot of work he and his teammates must do to reach that point.

"We have an extremely hard schedule," he said.

That seems like an understatement. Weber State not only has Utah and Utah State on its non-conference schedule, it also must face conference foes like Montana State (the second-ranked team in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision) and Eastern Washington (the third-ranked FCS team). No. 11 Cal Poly and No. 22 Montana also appear on the Wildcats' schedule, making it arguably the toughest FCS schedule in the country.

But Epperson is confident that the Wildcats can surprise some people this season.

"We picked up a lot of good guys in the offseason," he said. "We have a good, fast-tempo offense and our defense is improving."

The key to the season, according to Epperson, is the thing he had a hard time doing last year.

"We've just got to stay healthy," he said. "I'm probably not 100 percent right now, but I feel fine punting."

If he can match last season's punting average and stay healthy all year, he might just have a chance to move up to the next level. He said playing in the NFL would be a dream come true.

"I'm going to keep working toward it," he said. "Hopefully I'll get picked up and go to some camps and stuff. It'll be hard, but it'll be worth it in the end."

He'd love to play for his favorite team, the Denver Broncos, but he knows that's a long shot, especially since Denver just signed current punter Britton Colquitt to a four-year, $13.02 million contract extension.

He'd happily play for any NFL team, but he knows he has some work to do in college. He wants to make sure he ends his collegiate career on a good note to reward the team that had the most confidence in him coming out of Park City High School.

"They were one of the only teams whose coaching staff made an effort to come see me every week," he said. "I really liked the guys I was surrounded by at Weber State. It made the decision pretty easy."

The Wildcats open the season on Aug. 31 with a home game against Stephen F. Austin. They'll take on the University of Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Sept. 7 and will play at Utah State on Sept. 14.