Malone in running for Bednarik Award, WKU predicted to finish third in division


Credit: WKU Athletics

WKU senior defensive end, DeAngelo Malone (10) broke the WKU football program sack record on Nov. 14, 2020. WKU defeated Southern Mississippi 10-7.

Drew Toennies, Sports reporter

WKU senior DeAngelo Malone is in the running for the Chuck Bednarik Award for the second consecutive year, the Maxwell Football Club announced on Monday morning. The honor is presented annually to the most outstanding defensive player in all of college football.

Malone is one of five Conference USA players on the list for the honor and is the lone defensive end out of 19 potential winners. No other players on this list are from Kentucky schools.

The Atlanta, Georgia native is entering his fifth season as a Hilltopper and will be exercising his option for an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout his four seasons at WKU Malone has become one of the most accomplished defenders in program history.

Malone has played in 48 career games, starting 39 of them. Malone has made 255 total tackles, 135 of them solo, and 120 assisted tackles while racking up 42.5 tackles for loss and 25 sacks.

Maloneโ€™s 25th sack on Nov. 14, 2020 against Southern Miss set the programโ€™s FBS Era record and his 42.5 tackles for loss leave him just half a sack behind Andrew Jackson from tying the all-time program record (43).

Malone had 99 tackles in 2019, 21 of which resulted in a loss of yardage, a WKU FBS-era record, to go along with 11.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hurries. Malone was voted C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, which made him the first Hilltopper to earn the award since WKU entered the conference in 2014. Maloneโ€™s 99 tackles were the third-most tackles produced by a defensive lineman in a single season over the past decade.

The Chuck Bednarik Award is presented annually to the outstanding defensive player in college football and this upcoming 2021 season will mark the 27th year of the honor. The last winner of the Bednarik Award was Zaven Collins of Tulsa, who was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with the 16th overall draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Malone was also one of five Hilltoppers named to the C-USA Preseason Watch List, joining transfer quarterback Bailey Zappe, offensive lineman Cole Spencer, defensive back Antwon Kincade and kicker Brayden Narveson. Five players from all 14 C-USA programs were voted onto the list by their respective head coaches.

C-USA also announced its predicted order of finish for both its East and West divisions, forecasting a repeat of the 2020 conference championship that saw Marshall and UAB compete for the title. WKU was picked to finish third in the East behind Marshall and FAU, with the Hilltoppers receiving one first-place vote.

Sports reporter Drew Toennies can be reached at [email protected]ย Follow him on Twitterย @drew_toennies.