After a season in which he led the top defense in the Big South Conference, Kennesaw State defensive coordinator Danny Verpaele was selected to the American Football Coaches Association’s “35 Under 35” list.

The ballot was formed to highlight the accomplishments of coaches under the age of 35 and identify future leaders in the coaching profession. This year’s selections were chosen out of a field of over 150 candidates.

Verpaele’s Kennesaw State defense led the Football Championship Subdivision in red-zone defense at a 57.6% success rate and finished in the top 20 in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense. Three players received all-conference recognition, including senior linebacker Evan Thompson, who broke the Kennesaw State record for most tackles in a single season (118).

The Owls held opponents to 18.2 points per game, including a shutout effort against North Carolina A&T in front of a record-breaking crowd at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

“I am very grateful for the efforts of our outstanding players on the field, and coaches and staff who helped our defense succeed this season,” Verpaele said in a release. “I look forward to seeing how we attack this offseason and continue to build our defense and program to be the best in the nation.”

Verpaele accomplished this success in only his second season as Kennsaw State’s defensive coordinator. He previously served as the Owls’ safeties coach for the 2019 season and was the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Valdosta State from 2016-18.

“I am excited for coach Verpaele to receive this recognition,” Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said. “He has played a key role in our success and is listed here among the best young coaches in the nation.”

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