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Malone once again named First Team All-CUSA, 18 total Hilltoppers honored

WKU Football's Deangelo Malone vs Western Michigan in First Reponder Bowl
WKU Football's Deangelo Malone vs Western Michigan in First Reponder Bowl(Hunter Smith)
Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 3:53 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -Western Kentucky Football had six players named to All-Conference USA First and Second Teams, the league announced Monday. The Tops had 12 earn Honorable Mention, putting the teams’ total at 18 honorees.

Senior defensive end DeAngelo Malone earned a spot on the first team. The 2019 C-USA Player of the Year had another solid season with 65 tackles, six sacks, eight quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, and a blocked field goal. Malone’s 65 tackles ranked second in the FBS among defensive lineman. His 11 tackles for loss ranked second in the conference, while his six sacks tied for third.

Earning spots on the second team were safety Devon Key, cornerback Dionté Ruffin, offensive guard Jordan Meredith, punter John Haggerty, and kicker Brayden Narveson.

Key, a four-year starter on The Hill, ranked fourth in C-USA with 86 total tackles along with three pass breakups and a forced fumble. The Lexington, Ky., native has 344 career tackles with ranks fourth among active FBS players and 10th all-time in program history at WKU.

Ruffin was a matchup nightmare for receivers this season. He led the conference in pass breakups with 11 which is tied for third on the FBS. Ruffin snagged his first career interception against #10/11 BYU quarterback and Heisman hopeful Zach Wilson. According to PFF College, the Kenner, La., native has allowed completions on only 21-of-46 targets (46%) against him this season for 294 yards.

Meredith was voted to the league’s Preseason Team heading into the 2020 season and lived up to the expectations. According to PFF College, he ranks No. 2 among C-USA offensive guards with an 83.1 overall blocking rating, including marks of 84.7 pass blocking and 85.2 run blocking. Meredith was also given PFF College Second Team All-American status this season. The Bowling Green native earned C-USA and PFF College Honorable mention in 2019.

Haggerty set WKU’s all-time punting average with 45.9 yards per boot (45 for 2,064 total yards) and earning C-USA First Team honors in 2019. He only improved in year two increasing his average to 46.0 yards per punt (53 for 2,436 total yards). The Sydney, Australia, native earned C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week honors after an 8-punt, 426-yard (53.3 average) career day vs. FIU.

Narveson had one of the best place-kicking seasons in WKU history in his first season on The Hill. Narveson is 13-of-14 on field goal kicks this year. His 93% success rate is tied for third in the FBS among kickers with 10-plus attempts. He is 6-0f-6 in attempts from 40-49 yards and 5-of-5 from 30-39 yards. His 53-yarder at Middle Tennessee was the third-longest in program history. Narveson is also a perfect 24-of-24 on extra-point attempts for a total of 63 points.

Honorable Mention players, who received at least one All-Conference vote, for WKU include (alphabetically):

  • Senior linebacker Kyle Bailey
  • Redshirt junior long snapper Matt Baldeck
  • Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Ricky Barber
  • Redshirt junior cornerback Dominique Bradshaw
  • Junior offensive tackle Mason Brooks
  • Redshirt senior linebacker Eli Brown
  • Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jeremy Darvin
  • Senior safety Antwon Kincade
  • Redshirt senior wide receiver Xavier Lane
  • Redshirt senior nickelback Trae Meadows
  • Sophomore tight end Joshua Simon
  • Redshirt junior offensive tackle Cole Spencer

The Hilltoppers had six players – Bailey, Barber, Darvin, Kincade, Meadows, and Simon – who repeated as Honorable Mention selections from 2019. Meanwhile, Baldeck, Bradshaw, Brooks, Brown, Lane, and Spencer earned the first C-USA recognition of their careers.

C-USA’s superlative awards will be announced by the league office on Tuesday, December 22 at 11 a.m. CT. Hilltoppers earned three such awards in 2019, with Tyson Helton claiming Coach of the Year, Malone winning Defensive Player of the Year and quarterback Ty Storey being voted the league’s Newcomer of the Year. WKU had won three superlatives in the team’s first six seasons in the league – Most Valuable Player Brandon Doughty in 2014 and 2015 and Newcomer of the Year Mike White in 2016.

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