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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
CFB

NFL Draft Eyes Should Be On Western Kentucky This Fall

  • Ryan Fowler
  • September 1, 2022
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The third and fourth wideouts on Bailey Zappe’s pecking order last fall for Western Kentucky, Malachi Corley and Daewood Davis make up one of the most dynamic pass-catching tandems you have yet to hear about in college football. For an offense once again expected to be as productive as much any in the nation, Zappe’s departure to the NFL has paved the way for quarterback Austin Reed to captain an explosive arsenal of playmakers. 

The Hilltoppers’ offense finished last season first among all FBS programs in passing yards per game (433.7) and second in total yards per outing (536.2) behind only C.J. Stroud, Treveyon Henderson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and the loaded Ohio State attack. 2022 could be much of the same for head coach Tyson Helton.

An opening week victory over Austin Peay was another day at the office for Western Kentucky despite it being Reed’s first action under center. He had 276 yards and four touchdowns through the air, three of which were hauled in by Corley—just a redshirt sophomore who looks primed to fill the shoes of Jerreth Sterns from last year. While 1,800-plus yards will be awfully difficult to replicate, at 5-foot-11, Corley’s skill set is extremely impressive considering the ways in which he is able to win over each level of the defense. A knack for finding paydirt is a skill as much as it is a byproduct of being in a tier-one offense, and early signs this fall have showcased Corley as a box score stuffer, and a standout on tape. 

He isn’t alone, however, as Davis is looking for a breakout season of his own as a former transfer from Oregon. After totaling 763 yards last fall, he was Reed’s top target against Austin Peay, recording 124 yards and a trip to the endzone of his own. A long-striding, 6-foot-2 talent that uses his impressive verticality to his advantage over smaller corners, he and Corley present a case of pick your poison for opposing defenses to counter each and every week against Western Kentucky.

This brings us to the straw that stirs the drink in Reed, a transfer from Division II West Florida. An impressive talent with the arm to deliver into any window both inside and outside the hashes, he led the Argos in 2019 to a national title, amassing more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns through the air. He waited his turn behind Zappe last fall. Similar to the now New England Patriot, Reed possesses the traits to draw eyes from the NFL as we move into the meat of the college football season. 

A trio that has the potential to put up video game-like numbers each and every week, it’s only a matter of time before we see the Hilltoppers creep towards the AP Top 25.

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Ryan Fowler