WKU football signs transfer linebacker Will Ignont

Drake Kizer

The WKU football team has signed former University of Tennessee linebacker Will Ignont, the program announced Thursday afternoon.

Ignont held junior athletic status last season for the Volunteers, as he put up 16 tackles over the first three contests of 2019, including a seven-tackle performance vs. Georgia State and a career-best eight-tackle effort vs. BYU.

The Huntsville, Alabama, native played in 21 games over the past three seasons at Tennessee, including starts in two of the Volunteers’ first three games last season. As a sophomore, he played in all 12 games and ranked No. 7 on Tennessee with 47 total tackles.

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt confirmed Ignont and two other Volunteers had left the team and entered the transfer portal on Sept. 25, 2019, according to an Associated Press article.

According to an AL.com article, Pruitt said on the SEC teleconference that Ignont’s departure was for “personal reasons.” Ignont began the season as Tennessee’s starting middle linebacker, but his playing time diminished after senior Daniel Bitula and freshman Henry To’oto’o started receiving more reps.

Ignont was a four-star recruit out of Buckhorn High School. He earned 2015 and 2016 Class 7A All-State First Team accolades, was a 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl nominee and participated in the 2016 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. Ignont recorded 131 tackles and 22 tackles for loss as a senior in 2016 after totaling 91 tackles with six TFLs as a junior in 2015.

With the addition of Ignont, WKU linebackers coach Maurice Crum will have another experienced veteran to integrate into a linebacker room that was already scheduled to bring back 2019 starters Kyle Bailey and Clay Davis, as well as key reserves Jaden Hunter and Malik Staples.

Senior linebacker Eli Brown is also expected to work back into the mix after returning from a foot injury that forced him to miss the entire 2019 campaign.

Recent linebacker transfers Brown (Kentucky), Davis (Tennessee Tech), Hunter (Georgia) and Staples (Louisville) have all slotted into defensive coordinator Clayton White’s 4-2-5 scheme in recent years.

Bailey, who is entering his fourth season on the Hill, led WKU with 109 tackles and three interceptions after making the switch from safety to linebacker in the offseason.

The Hilltoppers’ six-win improvement from 2018 to 2019 tied for the third-best mark in the Football Bowl Subdivision, trailing only Navy (eight) and Central Michigan (seven).

Second-year head coach Tyson Helton and the 2020 Hilltoppers are expected to return 16 of their 22 offensive and defensive starters from a season ago, along with two of the team’s three specialists.

Sports Editor Drake Kizer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.