Phil Steele Names 10 Hilltoppers to Preseason All-CUSA Teams

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 11:03 AM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Phil Steele Publications announced its 2020 Preseason All-Conference USA Teams this week, and 10 WKU Football players were among those listed by the outlet.

The Hilltoppers’ 10 total ranks tied for third with Charlotte – behind UAB’s 14 and Southern Miss’ 12. However all of WKU’s names appear on the First, Second, and Third Team combined, which is tied with the Golden Eagles for most in the league.

Just like the Athlon Sports list that was announced last month, defending C-USA Defensive Player of the Year DeAngelo Malone – who was recently named to the 2020 Bednarik Award Watch List – along with punter John Haggerty, offensive lineman Jordan Meredith and tight end Joshua Simon all made the First Team.

After making the switch from safety back to linebacker (his high school position) during the 2019 offseason, Bailey led the Hilltoppers with 109 tackles and three interceptions; he was only 1-of-7 FBS defenders with at least 100 tackles and three picks last year. The Carrollton, Ga., native had a pair of interceptions vs. UAB en route to being voted C-USA Defensive Player of the Week after WKU’s 20-13 win over the Blazers. Bailey started all 13 games recorded four double-digit tackle performances, including each of the last three contests.

In his third year as starting safety, Key ranked third on the Hilltoppers with 93 tackles and tied for second with eight pass breakups. Overall, the Lexington, Ky., started all 13 games and had four double-digit tackle performances, while recording a career-high two tackles for loss in WKU’s 20-14 win at FIU. Key also added a pair of pass breakups in back-to-back games at Old Dominion and vs. Army. In the Hilltoppers’ blowout, 45-19 win at Arkansas, Key put the nail in the coffin with a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Pearson emerged as one of the top slot receiver threats in the nation last season. Only coming into the campaign with 20 catches for 172 yards in his first two years on The Hill, he exploded for 76 receptions for 804 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. Pearson and former WKU wideout Lucky Jackson were only 1-of-5 FBS teammate duos who each had at least 75 catches and 800 yards. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native had a career-high 10 receptions and 120 yards – including a career-long 69-yard score – against the Razorbacks.

First Team

  • John Haggerty, P, r-Sr.
  • DeAngelo Malone, DE, Sr.
  • Jordan Meredith, OL, r-Sr.
  • Joshua Simon, TE, So.

Second Team

  • Kyle Bailey, LB, Sr.
  • Devon Key, S, r-Sr.
  • Jahcour Pearson, WR, r-Sr

.Third Team

  • Juwuan Jones, DE, r-Jr.
  • Cole Spencer, OL, r-Jr.
  • Gaej Walker, RB, r-Sr.

Starting with the season opener against UT Chattanooga – which has been moved to Thursday, September 3, with a kickoff time of 6 p.m. CT – second-year head coach Tyson Helton and the 2020 Hilltoppers will face a wire-to-wire grind, as nine of the team’s original 11 FBS opponents competed in a bowl game in 2019.

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