Indiana Western Kentucky Football

Western Kentucky defensive end DeAngelo Malone reacts to a play Sept. 25 against Indiana at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Western Kentucky defensive end DeAngelo Malone has been invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

One of the most accomplished Hilltopper defenders of all time, the Atlanta native will join quarterback Bailey Zappe at Lucas Oil Stadium from March 1-7 for the event. It will be the fifth time in WKU program history that the Hilltoppers will have multiple representatives.

The combine gathers more than 300 prospects for a series of medical, physical and mental testing, helping teams make evaluations before the annual draft. Prospects will go through physical testing and field drills, as well as interviews with NFL franchises and media. NFL Network will broadcast live coverage of the event.

Malone started all 14 games in his senior season and racked up 94 total tackles – including 17.5 for loss – with nine sacks, four forced fumbles and four pass breakups. His 17.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles tied for the C-USA lead, while the nine sacks tied for second. The 94 total tackles led all FBS defensive linemen, marking the second time in the past three seasons (99 total tackles in 2019) that he accomplished that feat.

The league's 14 head coaches voted Malone the 2021 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, as he became only the fourth player in C-USA's 27-year history – and first since UCF defensive end Bruce Miller in 2009 and 2010 – to earn the honor twice. In addition, he was the first WKU player in the program's FBS Era to earn conference First Team honors three times – and the first Hilltopper since offensive lineman Buster Ashley, who was All-Gateway Football Conference First Team in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Malone is the all-time WKU program record-holder with 34 career sacks, which also led all active FBS defenders (Western Michigan's Ali Fayad ranked second with 33.5). His 60 career tackles for loss also led the nation (Texas Tech's Colin Schooler ranked second with 58.5) and rank second in Hilltopper history behind only Sherrod Coates' 75. Malone's 349 career total tackles rank second, behind only Devon Key's 350, in the program's FBS Era (since 2009). His 53 career starts are second in WKU history among non-specialists, trailing only offensive lineman Brandon Ray's 54 from 2014-17.

On Nov. 20, Malone accepted an invitation to the 2022 Reese's Senior Bowl, where he will join Zappe at the showcase in Mobile, Ala., from Feb. 1-5.

The combine has been held in Indianapolis since 1987, with its central geographical location making it a sensible venue for clubs and prospects alike. Last year – due to COVID-19 – the event was not held in traditional form. Instead, interviews were handled virtually, while workouts were deferred to college pro days.

Eight Hilltoppers have attended the combine in the program's FBS Era (since 2009): linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (2018), quarterback Mike White (2018), offensive lineman Forrest Lamp (2017), wide receiver Taywan Taylor (2017), tight end Tyler Higbee (2016), quarterback Brandon Doughty (2016), running back Antonio Andrews (2014) and defensive back Jonathan Dowling (2014).

– Follow sports editor Jeff Nations on Twitter @Jeff_NationsBG or visit bgdailynews.com.