After a disappointing 1-11 season last year, Vandal football fans were starting to think the only way to go was up. At least this was the case until Sunday afternoon, when Coach Paul Petrino announced the dismissal of top receiver Dezmon Epps from the team.
Epps, who led the team last season in receptions with 79 catches for 980 yards, pleaded guilty in April on a DUI charge, and was arrested again on a misdemeanor petit theft charge after shoplifting items from WinCo in Moscow Sunday.
Moscow Police were called to WinCo around 1 p.m. Sunday when employees observed Epps conceal about 10 items while putting others in his cart, said Moscow Police Chief David Duke.
“He then went through the cashier, paid for the articles he had out, but did not pay for the 10 items he had concealed,” Duke said.
This loss could prove fatal for the Vandals, who are trying to bounce back from an abysmal 2013-14 season. Epps averaged 6.6 receptions per game last year, which was the 12th most of any returning NCAA Division I player. Epps had his best receiving performance last year against Old Dominion where he made 9 receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown. His second best performance, surprisingly, was against the national champion Florida State Seminoles where he made 7 receptions for 126 yards.
With Epps out of the picture, sophomore wide receiver Deon Watson and senior quarterback Josh McCain are slated to be the team’s top playmakers. The pair finished last season with 279 and 445 yards respectively.
Epps is scheduled for pre-trial next week. He is already serving his two years’ probation after pleading guilty to his DUI charge in June.