Cory Munson named C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week, will remain starter

WKU Hilltoppers freshman kicker Cory Munson (46) launches a kick during WKU’s 35-28 loss against the Central Arkansas Bears in Houchens-Smith Stadium on Thursday Aug. 29, 2019.

Alec Jessie

With redshirt senior kicker Alex Rinella academically ineligible for the first two games of the 2019 WKU football season, another Hilltopper has stepped up in his absence.

Conference USA named freshman kicker Cory Munson Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday after he knocked in field goals of 44 and 19 yards in the second half during the team’s 20-14 victory over Florida International.

The eight points Munson scored with his leg ended up being the difference that ultimately separated the Hilltoppers from the Panthers, as WKU escaped Miami with a six-point victory.

Munson went 2 for 2 on field goal attempts, 2 for 2 on extra-point tries and had 3-of-4 kickoffs go into the end zone for touchbacks.

The true freshman also executed a surprise onside kick in the first half to get the ball back for the Hilltoppers.

The Warner Robins, Georgia, native is currently only one of just 11 true freshmen starting kickers on Football Bowl Subdivision teams. 

Munson is the WKU first player to be named C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week since returner Kylen Towner, who returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and added a 32-yard punt return later in the Hilltoppers’ 60-6 victory at Marshall on Nov. 26, 2016.

The freshman kicker is also the first Hilltopper to garner C-USA weekly recognition of any kind since quarterback Mike White completed 39-of-54 passes for 485 yards and five touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ 41-38 triple-overtime win against Middle Tennessee on Nov. 17, 2017.

Rinella is slated to rejoin the team this week after being forced to sit out for the first two games of the season, but head coach Tyson Helton said Monday that he’s content with the kicking situation as it is at the moment.

“I’ll leave it like it is for right now,” Helton said on Monday. “I’m glad Rinella is back. I think he adds just another talent to that group, but it will be John [Haggerty] and it will be Cory [Munson] right now. I want to look at Rinella a little bit with the kickoffs, see maybe there, but Cory is doing a nice job on that too. Rinella is a team player, he can do all three.”

Munson will look to keep his hot streak going against Louisville on Saturday. Kickoff for the neutral-site contest, which will be played at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, is slated for 3 p.m.

Reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow Alec on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.