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Quarterback Bailey Zappe Earns Invite to 2022 NFL Scouting Combine

Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe looks to throw a pass against Michigan State during...
Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe looks to throw a pass against Michigan State during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)(Al Goldis | AP)
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 5:56 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Football quarterback Bailey Zappe has been invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. The record-setting senior will be the third Hilltopper quarterback – joining Brandon Doughty in 2016 and Mike White in 2018 – to participate in the event.

The combine will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium from March 1-7. It gathers more than 300 prospects for a series of medical, physical and mental testing, helping teams make evaluations before the annual draft. Prospects will go through physical testing and field drills, as well as interviews with NFL franchises and media. NFL Network will broadcast live coverage of the event.

Zappe finished the 2021 campaign by completing 475-of 686 passes (69.2%) for 5,987 yards, with 62 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He leads the nation in yards by 1,226 (next-closest is Mississippi State’s Will Rogers’ 4,741) and touchdowns by 16 (next-closest is Alabama’s Bryce Young’s 46). With 422 yards and six touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ 59-38 victory over App State in the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl, Zappe set new all-time single-season FBS records, passing Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons, who had 5,833 yards in 13 games in 2003 and LSU’s Joe Burrow, who had 60 touchdowns in 15 games in 2019.

The Victoria, Texas, native was named a Finalist for both the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose and Manning Awards, as well as a Semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards. He was Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week four times and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player by the 14 head coaches. On November 15, Zappe became the first quarterback to accept an invitation to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he will join fellow standouts North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Nevada’s Carson Strong and Liberty’s Malik Willis.

With a C-USA Championship Game-record and career-high 577 yards at UTSA on December 3, Zappe became only the sixth quarterback in FBS history to achieve a 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown campaign. In addition, his 577 yards marked the first FBS passing performance of 560 or more yards since UCF’s Dillon Gabriel had 601 at Memphis on October 17, 2020.

From 2020-to-2021, the Hilltoppers went from scoring 19.0 points per game to 44.2 (+25.2 increase leads the nation), scoring 2.0 offensive touchdowns per game to 5.4 (+3.4) and 164.3 passing yards per game to 433.7 (+269.4). The 433.7 passing yards per game is the second-best number in FBS over the past five seasons (2019 Washington State averaged 437.2). In 14 games this season, Zappe had 90 passing “chunk” plays of 20 or more yards with 25 of those going for touchdowns. Comparatively, in 12 games in 2020, WKU had 15 “chunk” passing plays with three of those going for touchdowns.

The combine has been held in Indianapolis since 1987, with its central geographical location making it a sensible venue for clubs and prospects alike. Last year – due to COVID-19 – the event was not held in traditional form. Instead, interviews were handled virtually, while workouts were deferred to college pro days.

Besides Doughty and White, Hilltopper players to attend the combine in the program’s FBS Era (since 2009) include: linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (2018), offensive lineman Forrest Lamp (2017), wide receiver Taywan Taylor (2017), tight end Tyler Higbee (2016), running back Antonio Andrews (2014) and defensive back Jonathan Dowling (2014).

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