10 Hilltoppers named to Athlon Sports Preseason All-Conference USA Team


Credit: WKU Athletics

WKU Head Coach Tyson Helton and the Hilltoppers retake the field after the first half. The game was tied 10-10 at the half.

Wyatt Sparkman, Football Reporter

Athlon Sports announced Wednesday that 10 WKU football players made its 2021 Preseason All-Conference USA Team, two down from last season. Fifth year senior Deangelo Malone was the only Hilltopper to make the First Team, while five made the Second Team, one made the Third Team, and three made the Fourth Team. 

Malone was the lone Hilltopper on the First Team preseason All-Conference Team, making his second consecutive appearance. In 12 games in 2020, he tallied six sacks along with 71 total tackles. Malone made the All-Conference USA First Team and the Bednarik Award Watch List, the award given to the best defensive player in college football, in 2020.

Five WKU players made the Second Team. Headlining those names is Houston Baptist transfer Bailey Zappe, who led all of college football with 458.3 yards per game in 2020. Zappe threw for a total of 886 yards and eight touchdowns against Conference USA programs in 2020 and broke the record for most yards (567) by an FCS quarterback against a FBS defense against Texas Tech on Sept. 12, 2020.

The Hilltoppers special teams unit made the Second Team with redshirt senior punter John Haggerty III and redshirt sophomore kicker Brayden Narveson. Sophomore tight end Joshua Simon and redshirt junior offensive tackle Cole Spencer rounds out the Second Team. 

Senior safety Antwon Kincade was the lone Hilltopper to make the Third Team all-conference after tallying 85 tackles, while making Pro Football Focus’ Second Team All-Conference USA in 2020.

Junior offensive tackle Mason Brooks, redshirt senior Jeremy Darvin, and junior wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley were the WKU players who made the Fourth Team. Brooks played 12 games last season. Darvin tallied three sacks along with 5.5 tackles for loss, and Tinsley caught 43 passes with four touchdowns in 2020.

WKU begins its season on Sept. 2 against UT Martin at home at Houchens-Smith Stadium at 7 p.m. CT.

Football reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected]