DALLAS, Texas — Conference USA announced its 2021 Preseason Watch List on Monday, which includes WKU Football players Bailey Zappe, Cole Spencer, DeAngelo Malone, Antwon Kincade and Brayden Narveson. Each of the league’s 14 teams had five selected as key players to watch ahead of the season.
Zappe threw for 10,004 passing yards in four seasons with Houston Baptist and transferred to The Hill this winter. In the four games of the Huskies’ fall 2020 schedule, Zappe completed 141-of-215 passes (65.6%) for 1,833 yards, with 15 touchdowns and only one interception. At 458.3 yards per game, Zappe’s average led all of college football and ranked 101.3 yards above the leading FBS passer – Dillon Gabriel of UCF, who averaged 357 yards per game – in 2020.
Spencer has played 2,137 career snaps for the Hilltoppers, including 1,577 over the past two campaigns. With a 78.2 overall blocking rating in 2020, he ranked second among C-USA tackles, behind only teammate Mason Brooks’ 83.4. That followed a 2019 performance when he did not allow a sack or get called for a penalty all season while producing an overall blocking rating of 81.8, which led all C-USA tackles.
Malone, who was named to the 2021 Bednarik Award Watch List earlier on Monday, has made 255 total tackles (135 solo, 120 assisted) while racking up 42.5 tackles for loss and 25 sacks in his first four seasons as a Hilltopper. Malone’s 25th sack on Nov. 14, 2020 vs. Southern Miss set the program’s FBS Era (since 2009) record, while his 42.5 tackles for loss entering the 2021 season stands only 0.5 behind Andrew Jackson for that record as well.
Kincade has started 24-of-25 games over the past two years for WKU at safety, racking up 169 total tackles (91 solo, 78 assisted). He has 8.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and 13 pass breakups in that time as well. The Jacksonville, Fla., native earned an Honorable Mention All-American nod from PFF College following the 2019 campaign after producing the seventh-best PFF overall rating in the nation among safeties at 89.1.
Narveson made 13-of-14 field goal attempts and was a perfect 27-of-27 on extra point tries in 2020. He scored 66 total points in 12 games. His 93% field goal mark tied for third among all FBS kickers and ranked second for a single season all-time in WKU history to Garrett Schwettman’s 15-of-16 (94%) performance in 2015. He was only 1-of-20 FBS kickers listed as a Lou Groza Award Semifinalist, the first Hilltopper to do so since Schwettman in 2015.
Conference USA is hosting a virtual event this week for its 2021 Ryan Conference USA Football Kickoff.
The league’s head coaches and select student-athletes will be a part of the event to discuss and promote the upcoming season on Wednesday, July 21, and Thursday, July 22. The East Division will be participating in a Zoom media availability as part of the virtual event on Wednesday, July 21, while the West Division participants will go on Thursday, July 22.How to Follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Football, follow the program via social media @WKUFootball on Twitter and Facebook.