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Harlon Hill Trophy

Harlon Hill Trophy
Awarded for NCAA Division II college football player of the year
Location Florence, Alabama
Country United States
Presented by National Harlon Hill Awards Committee
Sports information directors
First awarded 1986
Currently held by Jason Vander Laan, Ferris State
Official website

The Harlon Hill Trophy is an award in American college football given to the individual selected as the most valuable player in NCAA Division II. The award is named for former University of North Alabama and National Football League player Harlon Hill. It was first given in 1986 to Jeff Bentrim of North Dakota State University. It is often considered to be the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.


  • Selection process 1
  • Trophy 2
  • History 3
  • Winners 4
  • Sponsors 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Selection process

Nominations for the trophy are made by sports information directors (SIDs) from the 156 schools that participate in NCAA Division II football. All of the nominees are then presented to a four-member regional Advisory Committee, one for each competition region (Northeast, South, Midwest, and West). Each committee is composed of four SIDs familiar with the process, who select up to six players who they deem worthy of the award, and give their results to the Voting Coordinator.[1]

The 24 players selected in the regional committees are referred to as "Candidates". The regional candidates are then presented to the regions' SIDs, who vote for a first, second, and third place. Each first place vote earns the player three points, while second place votes earn two, and third place votes one point. The top two players selected in each region are the "Finalists" and are placed on a national ballot.[1]

The national ballot is open to all of the SIDs, who vote for first, second, and third place amongst the eight finalists. The top three finishers are invited to the awards presentation held during the Division II Championship weekend in Florence, Alabama.[1]


The Harlon Hill Trophy is 30 inches tall (2 1/2 feet) and weighs 63 pounds. The football on top is a life-size replica of an actual game football and sits on a solid walnut base. The approximate value of the trophy is $2,300. It was created by Herff Jones, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, which also makes such notable awards as the Heisman Trophy and the Medal of Honor. Each year's winner of the Hill Trophy is awarded a trophy to keep. The original Hill Trophy remains on display in the Shoals year-round and bears the names of each year's recipient. The award was first presented in 1986.

Replicas of the Harlon Hill Trophy are on display at:


The trophy is named after Harlon Hill, who played at Florence State Teachers College (now the University of North Alabama) from 1950 to 1953, where he was named an NAIA All-American in his senior year. Hill was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 15th round of the 1954 NFL Draft. He played for the Chicago Bears (1954–61), Pittsburgh Steelers (1962), and Detroit Lions (1962). Hill was the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1954 and its most valuable player in 1955, both voted by the Newspaper Enterprise Association. He was a three-time All-Pro selection between 1954 and 1956.[2]

The trophy was first awarded in 1986 and was manufactured by Herff Jones. The trophy is 30 inches (76 cm) tall and weighs 63 pounds (29 kg). It is full-size replica of a football and sits on a solid-walnut base. The trophy is on display in Florence, with a new name added each year.[3]

Through 2009, only three winners have been selected in the NFL Draft. Three-time winner Johnny Bailey was selected by the Chicago Bears in the ninth round of the 1990 draft. Bailey played six seasons in the NFL and was selected to the 1993 Pro Bowl.[4] Ronald Moore was taken by the Phoenix Cardinals in the fourth round in 1993 and played six seasons.[5] Bernard Scott was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round in 2009 and debuted during his rookie season in 2010.[6]

Others were signed in the NFL as undrafted free agents. Two-time winner Danny Woodhead made his NFL debut with New York Jets in 2009.[7] Ronald McKinnon signed with the Arizona Cardinals, where he played from 1996 to 2004. He played an additional season for the New Orleans Saints for a total of ten seasons in the league, recording over 1,000 tackles.[8]

As of 2009, three winners—Johnny Bailey, Jeff Bentrim, and Ronald McKinnon—have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Of the 27 winners through 2012, 20 have been seniors, six juniors, and one sophomore. Three players have won the award multiple times: Johnny Bailey in 1987, 1988, and 1989, Dusty Bonner in 2000 and 2001, and Danny Woodhead in 2006 and 2007. All but one winner (Ronald McKinnon, 1995) have been offensive positions.[9]


Year Player Class School Position
1986 Jeff Bentrim Senior North Dakota State Quarterback
1987 Johnny Bailey Sophomore Texas A&I Running back
1988 Johnny Bailey Junior Texas A&I Running back
1989 Johnny Bailey Senior Texas A&I Running back
1990 Chris Simdorn Senior North Dakota State Quarterback
1991 Ronnie West Senior Pittsburg State Wide receiver
1992 Ronald Moore Senior Pittsburg State Running back
1993 William Graham Junior New Haven Running back
1994 Chris Hatcher Senior Valdosta State Quarterback
1995 Ronald McKinnon Senior North Alabama Linebacker
1996 Jarrett Anderson Senior Truman Running back
1997 Irvin Sigler Senior Bloomsburg Running back
1998 Brian Shay Senior Emporia State Running back
1999 Corte McGuffey Senior Northern Colorado Quarterback
2000 Dusty Bonner Junior Valdosta State Quarterback
2001 Dusty Bonner Senior Valdosta State Quarterback
2002 Curt Anes Senior Grand Valley State Quarterback
2003 Will Hall Senior North Alabama Quarterback
2004 Chad Friehauf Senior Colorado Mines Quarterback
2005 Jimmy Terwilliger Junior East Stroudsburg Quarterback
2006 Danny Woodhead Junior Chadron State Running back
2007 Danny Woodhead Senior Chadron State Running back
2008 Bernard Scott Senior Abilene Christian Running back
2009 Joique Bell Senior Wayne State Running back
2010 Eric Czerniewski Senior Central Missouri Quarterback
2011 Jonas Randolph Senior Mars Hill Running back
2012 Zach Zulli Junior Shippensburg Quarterback
2013 Franklyn Quiteh Senior Bloomsburg Running back
2014 Jason Vander Laan Junior Ferris State Quarterback


  • City of Florence
  • Herff-Jones
  • Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
  • OptiNet
  • Florence-Lauderdale Tourism


  1. ^ a b c "How The Winner is Selected". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved 9 December 2009. 
  2. ^ "Who is Harlon Hill?". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "The History of the Harlon Hill Trophy". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  4. ^ "Johnny Bailey". NFL. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  5. ^ "Ronald Moore". NFL. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  6. ^ "Bernard Scott". Cincinnati Bengals. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  7. ^ "Danny Woodhead". NFL. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  8. ^ McIntyre, Jeff (19 December 2009). "The graduate, starring Ronald McKinnon". Times Daily. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  9. ^ "Previous Harlon Hill Trophy Winners". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 

External links

  • Official website
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