The Lions' newest linebacker completed a degree in biochemistry last May and is currently working on his Masters. He recently contributed to a research project that used Nano particles as a delivery method for cancer fighting medicine.
“I get that a lot,” Hepburn said when one media member suggested that he might be wasting his time playing football.
“But football is my No. 1 love and I’ve always wanted to be in the position I am now. To be able to live out my dream of playing in the NFL.”
He says his other dream of one day owning a pharmaceutical company can wait.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Hepburn might just be the smartest player he’s ever drafted, but he’s pretty sure he’s a good football player, too.
“We spoke to him at the combine and he’s a very impressive young man,” Mayhew said. “I spoke to his head coach today, Earl Holmes, who played here. Once I spoke to Earl I really wanted to draft him.
“Earl was talking about the player he is and talking about how the kid could help us.”
Hepburn, 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, walked onto the Florida A&M football team as a blocking tight end in 2008, but made the move to linebacker the following season.
He was very productive as a senior, tallying 86 tackles (9.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks, seven pass breakups and a forced fumble. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds at the Combine and showed some explosiveness in drills.
Hepburn has experience playing both inside and outside, though the Lions have more of a need on the outside after losing starter Justin Durant via free agency.