With a proud history in the DC area, the Landon program has had plenty of talented offensive players over the years. Mark Kovler, Peter Lamade, Matt Ward and Jake Byrne and countless others went on to enjoy success at the college level.
Joey Epstein, who committed to Hopkins several weeks ago to become the sport’s earliest publicized verbal ever, seems to have the potential, drive and skill set to put his name up among of the best to come through the Bears’ program. He’s currently getting significant playing time on the varsity football team as a RB and LB, which is a pretty strong start to his career.
A 5-foot-10, 170-pound freshman who dodges with physicality, he excels with Cabell Maddux’s Madlax program based out of Northern Virginia. This summer, Epstein participated in the UA Shootout, Baltimore Summer Kickoff, Dukes HHH, BLC Young Guns, U-15 Championships in Denver and the Capital Classic.
J.R. Bordley, a former Maryland standout and son of longtime Landon head coach Rob Bordley, has high hopes for Epstein, who he thinks brings a lot of the same skills to the table that Virginia’s Tewaaraton winner Matt Ward did.
“Joey’s certainly a special player for a kid so young and he has a similar body and skill set to players like Matt Rambo, Colton Rupp and Matt Ward,” says Bordley, who handles the recruiting process and assistant coaching duties for Landon. “I’ve watched him less than 10 times but he’s done some things that I’ve never seen a kid do at that age. He’s deceptively strong and just has this attitude and swagger about him.”
This spring, he’ll have the opportunity to vie for starting duties along with the aforementioned Rupp as well as No. 3 sophomore Nate Buller (Duke) and recent Bucknell verbal Colin O’Brien.
Epstein also visited North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Princeton, looking at Duke and Penn State in addition.
I got to speak with Joey over Columbus Day weekend. Here’s what he had to say:
How much were your family ties a factor in choosing Hopkins and what were the other main reasons why you decided to become a Blue Jay?
My dad has worked at Hopkins for several years and has loved the Mt. Washington and Homewood campuses. Although this didn’t play a huge role in my decision, I did feel as though I wanted to stay close to home. I’ve wanted to be a Blue Jay ever since I picked up a stick and I’ve been going to Hopkins lacrosse games since I was six years old. I loved the coaching staff, the campus, the tradition and the family feel that Hopkins lacrosse players have. I wanted one of the best academic schools I could find plus an opportunity to win a national championship.
As the first commit in the entire 2018 class, do you feel any extra incentive to perform well?
Being the first 2018 commit doesn’t add any more pressure or stress that I don’t already put on myself. I always feel as though I have to play perfect.
How has your experience with MadLax been and what are some of the events you have lined up for the fall?
The Madlax experience has been great – you get some of the best coaching in the country and also the best competition in the country. I know we’ll be competing in the Philly Showcase and the Terrapin Classic this coming November.
What does it mean to be at Landon following in the footsteps of a ton of great attackmen? What are your goals for your high school career as well as some of the things you’d like to work on?
It’s an absolute honor to be able to play with and follow in the footsteps of some of the best attackmen at the high school and college level. Being able to play with some of the best high school players in the nation at Landon is incredible.
I’d like to win several IAC national championships, hopefully a national championship and then I also want to become a captain one day. I’d like to get better at all of the aspects of my game, especially getting more explosive and reading defenses.