WKU defeats Army 17-8

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers offensive lineman Jordan Meredith (61) celebrates the team's 4th win after WKU's 17-8 win over Army on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, at Houchens-Smith Stadium. (Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)

Phil Steele Publications announced its 2020 Preseason All-Conference USA Teams this week, and 10 Western Kentucky players were among those listed.

The Hilltoppers’ 10 total ranks tied for third with Charlotte – behind UAB’s 14 and 12 for Southern Miss. All of WKU’s honorees appear on the First, Second and Third Team combined, which is tied with the Golden Eagles for most in the league.

Just like the Athlon Sports list that was announced last month, defending C-USA Defensive Player of the Year DeAngelo Malone – who was recently named to the 2020 Bednarik Award Watch List – along with punter John Haggerty, offensive lineman Jordan Meredith and tight end Joshua Simon, all made the First Team.

On Phil Steele’s Second Team were linebacker Kyle Bailey, safety Devon Key and wide receiver Jahcour Pearson.

After making the switch from safety back to linebacker, where he played in high school, during the 2019 offseason, Bailey led the Hilltoppers with 109 tackles and three interceptions; he was one of only seven FBS defenders with at least 100 tackles and three picks last year. The Carrollton, Ga., native had a pair of interceptions versus UAB en route to being voted C-USA Defensive Player of the Week after WKU’s 20-13 win over the Blazers. Bailey started all 13 games and recorded four double-digit tackle performances, including each of the last three contests.

In his third year as starting safety, Key ranked third on the Hilltoppers with 93 tackles and tied for second with eight pass breakups. The Lexington native started all 13 games and had four double-digit tackle performances, while recording a career-high two tackles for loss in WKU’s 20-14 win at FIU. Key also added a pair of pass breakups in back-to-back games at Old Dominion and versus Army. In the Hilltoppers’ 45-19 win at Arkansas, Key had a 25-yard interception return for touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Pearson emerged as one of the top slot receiver threats in the nation last season. Only coming into the campaign with 20 catches for 172 yards in his first two years at WKU, he exploded for 76 receptions for 804 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. Pearson and former WKU wideout Lucky Jackson were one of only five FBS teammate duos who each had at least 75 catches and 800 yards. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native had a career-high 10 receptions and 120 yards – including a career-long 69-yard score – against the Razorbacks.

First Team

  • John Haggerty, P, r-Sr.
  • DeAngelo Malone, DE, Sr.
  • Jordan Meredith, OL, r-Sr.
  • Joshua Simon, TE, So.

Second Team

  • Kyle Bailey, LB, Sr.
  • Devon Key, S, r-Sr.
  • Jahcour Pearson, WR, r-Sr.

Third Team

  • Juwuan Jones, DE, r-Jr.
  • Cole Spencer, OL, r-Jr.
  • Gaej Walker, RB, r-Sr.

WKU is scheduled to host UT Chattanooga to open the season Sept. 3.{&end}

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