Corley leading receiving corps in third year on the Hill


Sean McInnis

WKU wide receiver Malachi Corley runs the ball to the end zone to score a touchdown for the Hilltoppers at Houchens-Stadium on Sept. 24, 2022 in Bowling Green, Ky.

Camden Bush, Football reporter

Sophomore wideout Malachi Corley has risen to the top of the WKU wide receiver group this season, leading the unit in receiving yards and touchdowns.

The coaching staff trusted him to make plays, and he has delivered.

“There was a lot of preparation that came into this, and during the spring I made the coaches feel comfortable and [they] gave me the opportunity to be promoted up to that WR1 position,” Corley said. “They trusted me to make plays and show up every Saturday, and that’s what ultimately propelled me into my WR1 position.”

Corley originally committed to WKU in 2020 as a two-star prospect out of high school, but he wasn’t in the business of catching passes on offense. He headed to the Hill as a cornerback recruit, but switched positions once he arrived. He played as a running back for the Hilltoppers before swapping positions again, this time to wide receiver.

“In high school I played cornerback, I played safety, I played everything in high school,” Corley said. “[…] I came in as a running back actually, they moved me to running back. We only had about four guys when I got here and I was 205 pounds, so that put me in a position to be able to play running back and help our team out.” 

Corley played his prep football in-state at Campbellsville High School. Corley was a star player there at multiple positions, helping him out later on down the road.

“Being able to play all these positions over the course of my life has tremendously helped me as a player and as an athlete,” Corley said. “You get a lot of different footworks and a lot of different looks and it’s able to help you see the field better, see the field from the defensive side of the ball. It makes the game easier for your offense.”

Corley has far outplayed his two-star rating. Corley got limited playing time in his first collegiate season, catching just six passes for 65 yards. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed Corley to keep his freshman status going into his second year.

Corley took a big leap in year two. Despite starting in just five games, Corley appeared in every single WKU contest and accumulated 73 catches for 691 yards on the year. Corley also hauled in seven touchdowns. 

Now, in year three, Corley has made the jump to the team’s leading receiver.

Corley has put up 863 yards through the team’s first ten games, well on his way to a 1,000 yard season. His yardage has come on 64 receptions and Corley has already matched his 2021 total of seven touchdowns. He is averaging a career-best 13.5 yards per reception, an improvement from 9.5 yards last year.

The Hilltopper receiving corps is a dangerous one, featuring two threats in Corley and redshirt senior Daewood Davis, a pair that works well together.

“It takes the pressure off me, Daewood is more of our over the top deep threat and he’s really fast,” Corley said. “So he takes the top off the defense and I do my work underneath. I catch a lot of balls and make plays throughout the middle of the field.”

Corley has also built a potent connection with DII transfer gunslinger Austin Reed, the third quarterback he’s caught passes from during his time on the Hill – who also happens to be his roommate.

“Austin is my roommate, we kind of have been able to build that Jerreth Sterns–Bailey Zappe connection,” Corley said, referencing WKU’s explosive QB-WR tandem from last season. “Having a roommate like that, someone who you can watch film with and is a brother to you […] It really helps you on the field, being comfortable with someone that can throw you the ball and you can trust that they’re making the right reads and putting the ball in the right place where it needs to be all the time.”

Corley will continue his breakout season this Saturday when the Hilltoppers host the Rice owls at noon CT.

Football reporter Camden Bush can be reached at [email protected].