WKU Football’s Malone, Haggerty Land C-USA Preseason Honors

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU Football earned two individual honors and had three players named to the 2020 Preseason All-Conference USA Team, as selected by the league’s 14 head coaches, the conference announced Tuesday morning.

Senior defensive end DeAngelo Malone was tabbed to repeat as the Defensive Player of the Year, while redshirt senior punter John Haggerty was voted Special Teams Player of the Year, with the duo also being named to the C-USA Preseason All-Conference Team along with redshirt senior offensive guard Jordan Meredith.

Since joining the conference in 2014, the Hilltoppers have previously had three honorees named C-USA Preseason Players of the Year, with quarterback Mike White and kick returner Kylen Towner earning Offensive and Special Teams Player of the Year designations in 2017, and quarterback Mike White receiving Offensive Player of the Year recognition in 2015.

Malone was named the 2019 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year following a dominant junior campaign, which marked WKU’s first league Defensive Player of the Year since linebacker Xavius Boyd and defensive end Quanterus Smith went back-to-back in the Sun Belt Conference in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

During the 2019 season, Malone anchored the top scoring defense in the conference while tying for fourth in the country with 21.0 tackles for loss and tying for 11thin the nation with 11.5 sacks. The Atlanta, Ga., native set the WKU FBS Era (since 2009) record in tackles for loss, while becoming only the fourth defender in school history with double-digit quarterback takedowns.

Haggerty made an immediate impact in his first season with the Hilltoppers after coming to WKU from Sydney, Australia. He boomed 45 punts for 2,064 yards in 13 games, for a gross average of 45.9 yards, which ranked first in C-USA and set a single-season program record for the Hilltoppers.

On the season, Haggerty booted 17 balls 50+ yards during the 2019 campaign after WKU only had 18 such punts from 2016-2018 combined. Haggerty also compiled 50+ yard punts on 38 percent of his 46 attempts, which ranked ninth in the FBS.

Meredith, who has started 25 consecutive games for the Hilltoppers, proved to be one of the most effective offensive guards in the conference last season. After accumulating 912 offensive snaps at right guard during WKU’s 13 games, Meredith led all C-USA guards across the board with a 77.8 overall blocking grade, 88.9 pass blocking grade and 76.9 run blocking grade by PFF College’s Premium Stats. His pass blocking grade led the nation among guards, while his run blocking grade ranked 14th and overall grade ranked 12th.

The Hilltoppers are currently set to open their 2020 season on Sept. 12 when they head to Louisville to face the Cardinals.