DALLAS, Texas — WKU Football defensive end DeAngelo Malone was voted Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week and kicker Brayden Narveson earned the Special Teams Player of the Week nod, the league announced Monday. It is the third time each player has won the honor in their Hilltopper careers.
With these two, WKU finished the 2021 campaign with 10 C-USA Player of the Week awards – clipping UTSA (nine) to mark the most in the league this year. Overall, Hilltopper Football has won 45 C-USA Player of the Week awards over the past eight seasons – 21 Offensive, 11 Defensive and 13 Special Teams.
Malone’s and Narveson’s performances were vital to the Hilltoppers’ 53-21 throttling of Marshall, as WKU came out on top in the rivalry game that decided the C-USA East Division champion.
Malone recorded two sacks – 2.5 tackles for loss overall – and seven total tackles. He made perhaps the game’s biggest momentum-changing play in the second quarter, sacking Herd quarterback Grant Wells near midfield and forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Hilltoppers. At the time, WKU was losing 14-0 – but following Malone’s sack/fumble, the Hilltoppers scored 36 consecutive points over the next 32 minutes of game time.
The senior from Atlanta, Ga., is the all-time WKU program record-holder with 32.5 career sacks, which also leads all active FBS defenders (Western Michigan’s Ali Fayad ranks second with 32). Malone’s 332 career tackles rank second, behind Devon Key’s 350, in the Hilltopper program’s FBS Era (since 2009). He is averaging 6.6 tackles per game this season, ranking second among FBS defensive linemen (Toledo’s Jamal Hines ranks first with 6.8 per game).
Narveson earned his second Special Teams Player of the Week nod this year with made four field goals – of 53, 46, 41 and 39 yards – while going 5-for-5 on extra points for a career-high 17 points scored, becoming only the second C-USA kicker to reach that total in a game over the past two years.
The redshirt sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., made two crucial field goals – of 46 and 41 yards – in the first half to put six points on the board for WKU after Marshall took an early 14-0 lead. His 53-yard make in the third quarter matched a career-long – which is tied for the third-longest in Hilltopper program history. Narveson wrapped up his performance with a 39-yard field goal in the game’s final minutes.
Narveson is 20-of-23 on field goal attempts this season (87%) and 33-of-37 (89.2%) over the past two years at WKU. He is a perfect 61-of-61 on extra point tries in 2021, giving him 121 total points scored. The all-time single-season record for a Hilltopper kicker is 124, posted by Garrett Schwettman in the 2015 campaign.
Quarterback Bailey Zappe led the league with four C-USA Player of the Week awards during the 2021 season. Other WKU players to be honored were defensive back Beanie Bishop, safety A.J. Brathwaite, Jr. and wide receiver Jerreth Sterns.
The Hilltoppers notched their seventh-straight win in C-USA play and claimed the East Division Championship outright. WKU – 8-4 overall, 7-1 in league games – earned a berth in the C-USA Championship Game against West Division winner UTSA. The Hilltoppers will look to avenge their lone C-USA loss (a 52-46 defeat in Bowling Green on October 9) on Friday, December 3, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. in the Alamodome. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.