BOWLING GREEN — The next man in charge of WKU Football’s dominant defensive ends group will be Kenny Baker, after the departure of former coach Jimmy Lindsey.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the program that Coach Helton is building here at WKU,” Baker said. “I’m looking forward to working with an outstanding group of student-athletes that has been assembled here, helping to continue their growth and progress as young men and football players.”
Baker looks to provide his expertise to the productive defensive ends position. Two Hilltopper starters, DeAngelo Malone and Juwuan Jones, are returning and poised to build on a tremendous season in 2019.
Malone earned the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Award while recording 99 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss. Meanwhile, Jones recorded 55 tackles, seven sacks and 12.5 TFL’s.
“Coach Baker is very familiar with what we do here and that was important to me to keep that continuity, but he’s also a guy that has his own flair on things,” head coach Tyson Helton said. “You have to have a guy who can walk in the room as a coach that the players will feel comfortable with and can take them to the next level ... I think we hit a homerun with him, I really do.”
Baker spent his last season coaching defensive line at UT Chattanooga. He joined the Mocs after five seasons in the same role at Mercer from 2014-18.
Last year at UTC, he coached some great players on the defensive line. Khayyan Edwards and Telvin Jones were both Second Team All-SoCon selections, while Devonnsha Maxwell was a Hero Sports Sophomore All-American.
Edwards was third on the team with 48 tackles, six TFL’s and 2.5 sacks. Jones had 37 tackles and was second on the team with 6.5 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks.
Maxwell was a First Team All-SoCon selection after leading the Mocs with seven sacks. He was also second in the league with 13 TFL’s. He also added 46 tackles and three quarterback hurries.
At Mercer, his defensive line played an important role in Mercer leading the SoCon in turnovers gained and turnover margin in 2017.
Mercer managed to tally over 21 turnovers gained for four years in a row. The 2015 Mercer team was one of the best against the run in the SoCon. They allowed 171.3 rushing yards per game.
Prior to his days at Mercer, Baker was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Berry College.
He was the student assistant for Rusty Wright at the linebacker position in 2009. Baker also served as defensive coordinator at Augusta’s Lakeside High School from 2010-12.
Baker is a native of Cartersville, Ga., and chose to attend school at Gardner-Webb. He was a four-year letterman from 2005-08 and three-year starter on the defensive line.
He was selected as a team captain and earned the team’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2007.
He earned a B.S. in Health & Physical Education in 2009 and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Leadership from Mercer in 2018.