WKU’s defensive seniors look to make an impact in spring

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Keilen Frazier

WKU defensive end DeAngelo Malone (10) pursues the loose football from UT Martin. The Hilltoppers defeated the Skyhawks 59-24 in their season opener on September 2, 2021 at Houchins-Smith Stadium.

Rob Holmes, Sports Reporter

WKU has concluded its eighth spring football practice in preparation of its annual spring game.

WKU defensive line coach Kenny Baker is optimistic that even with the talent he’s lost, he can still maintain a productive unit. 

“It’s been good,” Baker said. “Obviously, some things have changed in terms of new staff, new schemes, but at the end of the day, spring is spring. [We] find out what we can and can’t do, put those guys in situations that maybe they didn’t get this past year. At the end of day, ball is ball and we just gotta keep working.”

The defensive line is losing a major piece in DeAngelo Malone, the all-time sack leader in program history, but WKU has multiple guys in line that are ready and expected to take the next step.

“I mean, really, the standard hasn’t changed,” Baker said. “The standard is the standard, so we want to continue to build off the success we’ve had as a unit. Mike Allen’s another guy, not a newcomer, but we’ve challenged him in the run game, challenged him in the physicality piece and he keeps stepping up to that.”

Redshirt senior Mike Allen has had a great spring and his coaches believe that he’s ready for a bigger role. Allen was a rotational piece on the defensive line last year. He wants to continue to get better and better each day given the opportunity of a new season.

“It’s been really good,” Allen said. “I’ve been able to break down this new defense. I’m starting to like it, other people are starting to like it, and it’s been effective in our first scrimmage. Confidence should never be an issue, but I’m doing what I have to do to get better, that’s my personal goal.”

Another Hilltopper expected to have an increased role on the defense is former running back-turned-defensive back redshirt senior C.J. Jones.

“The coaches just came to me and told me that I had value in a lot of places on the field, and they told me they see me playing defense and making an impact on the field,” Jones said. “So I wanted to be a team player and decided to go defense. The hardest part would be picking up the speed of the defense even though I got a little bit of playing time towards the end of the year. I would say the part that’s most fun is being with this group of guys and being with Coach Summers.”

WKU’s annual spring game will be played on April 23. 

Sports Reporter Rob Holmes IV can be reached at [email protected].