John Haggerty, DeAngelo Malone named to preseason award watch lists

Head shot of punter John Haggerty courtesy of WKU Athletics. 

The preseason accolades are piling up for the Hilltopper football team as two more award watch lists have been released.

Tuesday, the FWAA in conjunction with the Charlotte Touchdown Club announced the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list, which included senior Hilltopper defensive end DeAngelo Malone. This is the second preseason watch list for Malone who was honored by the Bednarik Award on July 13.

Since 1993 the FWAA has chosen a national defensive player of the year. In 1995, the award was named in honor of legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota, Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski, a member of both the College Football and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Bednarik as well as the Nagurski trophy are both awarded each year to college football’s most outstanding Defensive player. Malone is 1-of-23 defensive ends and 1-of-7 from Conference USA out of 98 players on the initial Nagurski Award watch list.

Malone led the conference’s top scoring defense in 2019 in route to being voted Conference USA Defensive Player of the year. He set the WKU FBS era record in tackles for loss as well as becoming only the fourth defender in all-time Hilltopper history with double-digit sacks.

Wednesday, the Augusta Sports Council announced senior punter John Haggerty as part of the 2020 Ray Guy Award Watch List. The award was created in 2000 in honor of college football and pro football hall of fame inductee, punter Ray Guy.

Statistics used to choose the winner are net punting average, punts inside the 20-yard line, average return yardage, and percentage of punts not returned. The winner also should show team leadership, self-discipline and have a positive impact on the team’s success.

In his first season as a Hilltopper, the Sydney, Australia native set the all-time WKU program record with 45.9 yards per punt with a net average of 42.1 yards, both ranking in the top 15 in FBS. Haggerty also had 18 punts inside the 20 yard line compared to only two touchbacks.

Haggerty is the only C-USA player to make the list out of 19 initial watch list members. He has also been named preseason first team All-CUSA by Athlon Sports and Phil Steele.

Haggerty is also the first WKU punter to be voted first team all-conference since Brian Claybourn in 2003 and 2004.

Both Malone and Haggerty will look to have an even bigger impact in 2020 as WKU faces a schedule that has nine of the team’s original 11 FBS opponents that competed in a bowl game in 2019. The Hilltoppers season opener is inching closer by the day as they get set to face University of Tennessee Chattanooga on Thursday, September 3 with a kickoff time of 6 p.m. CT

Football beat reporter Casey Warner can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @thecaseywarner.