WSU's Joique Bell Named One of Three 2009 Harlon Hill Award Finalists
FLORENCE, Ala. --
The voting has concluded for the NCAA Division II College Football
Player of the Year Award, and while the results of that voting
won't be announced until December 11, three players have received
invitations to attend the 24th Annual Harlon Hill Trophy
Presentation Banquet for the naming of the top player in Division
Junior quarterback Zach Amedro of West Liberty (W.V.) University, senior running back Joique Bell of Wayne State (Mich.) University and senior quarterback Nick Graziano of Arkansas Tech University have emerged as the top three vote-getters from a field of nine finalists in voting by the sports information directors at the 148 schools that compete in Division II football.
The Hill Trophy is sponsored by the
City of Florence, Ala., Florence-Lauderdale Tourism, Opti-Net, the
Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa and Herff Jones.
Candidates for the 2009 Hill Trophy
were nominated by the sports information directors at their
respective schools and those nominations were then reviewed by the
Hill Regional Advisory Committees, which trimmed the list of
National voting concluded on
November 28 and the top three finishers are invited to the Shoals
for the presentation banquet. The winner of the 2009 award, which
is presented by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, will be
announced at the Harlon Hill Trophy and Division II Football Hall
of Fame Banquet on Friday, December 11 in Florence, prior to the
NCAA Division II Football Championship Game on Dec. 12. The banquet
will include the induction of former Savannah State standout
Shannon Sharpe into the Division II Football Hall of Fame.
Tickets are $50 each or $400 for a
table of eight and can be purchased by calling Judy Keenum at the
Shoals Chamber of Commerce at (256) 764-4661.
Other finalists for the 2009 award
were senior quarterback Harrison Beck of the University of North
Alabama, senior running back LaRon Council of Northwest Missouri
State University, junior quarterback Zack Eskridge of Midwestern
(Texas) State University, senior quarterback Trevor Harris of
Edinboro University, senior quarterback Brad Iciek of Grand
Valley State University and junior running back Isaac Odim
of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Amedro, a junior from Moundsville, W.V., threw for 4,945 yards and 49 touchdowns this season while leading West Liberty to an 11-2 record and into the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs.
He leads the nation in TD passes (49), ranks No. 2 in passing yards (380.4 ypg.), No. 3 in total offense (378.5 ypg.) and No. 4 in passing efficiency (169.6). He is the only NCAA quarterback (all divisions) to surpass 300 passing yards and 300 yards of total offense in every game this season.
The 13 300-yard games are all-time
NCAA Division II single-season passing and total offense records He
completed 27-of-32 passes for a school-record 540 yards and six TDs
in an NCAA Division II regional semifinal victory against Edinboro
(Pa.). He completed 70 passes of 20 yards or more this year with 33
covering more than 30 yards His 4,945 passing yards and 49
touchdown passes rank No. 3 on the all-time NCAA Division II
single- season list.
The West Liberty attack leads the
nation in total offense (542.3 ypg.), scoring offense (47.3 ppg.)
and touchdowns (85). Amedro led West Liberty to a No. 9- ranking
and to a school-record 11-win season. The Hilltoppers were the top
seed in the NCAA Division II Super Region One playoff field and
advanced to the quarterfinals.
Bell, a senior from Benton Harbor, Mich., is the 2009 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year as voted by the league's coaches. He is also a four-time first-team All-GLIAC selection and finished his career with 6,728 career rushing yards, sixth best in Division II history and eighth best in NCAA history for all divisions.
At the conclusion of the Division II regular season, Bell led all four NCAA divisions in rushing yards per game (189.45), scoring (17.5 points per game) and all-purpose yards (217.5 per game).
Bell rushed for 2,084 yards, the 15th-best mark in NCAA Division II history, and scored 29 touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for 293 yards and three scores. He was named GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week four times in 2009 and eight times in his career. His 152.91 rushing yards per game (for 44 games) is 11th best in Division II history and 25th in NCAA history.
Bell scored 576 points in his career which ranks fourth in DII and fifth in NCAA history, while his 13.1 points per game average is fourth in DII and 10th in NCAA history. His 8,055 all-purpose yards is fourth in Division II and ninth in NCAA history. He also became the fourth player in Division II history with two 2,000-yard rushing seasons (Abilene Christian's Bernard Scott in 2007-08; Emporia State's Brian Shay in 1996-98; and C.W. Post's Ian Smart in 2001-02). Bell rushed for 2,065 yards as a freshman to eclipse Johnny Bailey's freshman rushing mark. In addition to his individual records, WSU had its best four-year win total since the class of 1978.
Graziano, a senior from Moraga, Calif., was selected Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year after throwing for 4,313 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was chosen first-team All-GSC and was GSC Offensive Player of the Week four times. D2Football.com selected him as it's National Offensive Player of the Week three times and he was named Daktronics Super Region 2 Offensive Player of the Year.
He set a school record with 546
total yards against Delta State and tied a school record with six
TD passes against West Georgia. He also had the school's first-ever
400-yard passing game this season, and then did it five more
times. Graziano had 58 plays of 20 yards or more in 2009.
He completed 333-of-538 passes with
just 12 interceptions and a 61.9 percent completion
percentage. He also rushed for 455 yards and seven
touchdowns. His 4,313 passing yards is the most in GSC
history and he led Tech to a 10-2 record and into the second round
of the Division II playoffs.
The initial Harlon Hill Trophy was won by North Dakota State quarterback Jeff Bentrim in 1986, followed by Texas A&M-Kingsville runningback Johnny Bailey - in 1987, 1988 and 1989.
Another North Dakota State quarterback, Chris Simdorn, claimed the 1990 award, followed by Pittsburg State receiver Ronnie West in 1991, Pittsburg State running back Ronald Moore in 1992, New Haven running back Roger Graham in 1993 and Valdosta State University quarterback Chris Hatcher in 1994. North Alabama linebacker Ronald McKinnon became the first defensive player to win the award when he claimed the Hill Trophy in 1995.
Truman State University running back Jarrett Anderson won the 1996 award and Bloomsburg University running back Irvin Sigler claimed the Hill Trophy in 1997 award. Running back Brian Shay of Emporia State won in 1998, followed by Northern Colorado quarterback Corte McGuffey in 1999 and Valdosta State quarterback Dusty Bonner in 2000 and 2001, and Grand Valley State quarterback Curt Anes in 2002.
The 2003 trophy was awarded to
North Alabama quarterback Will Hall, and Chad Friehauf of the
Colorado School of Mines won the 2004 award. East Stroudsburg's
Jimmy Terwilliger claimed the 2005 Hill Trophy as a junior and
Chadron State running back Danny Woodhead won the 2006 and 2007
Hill Trophies to become just the third two-time winner. Running
back Bernard Scott of Abilene Christian won the 2008 Hill
2009 HARLON HILL TROPHY TOP THREE
Player Pos. Ht Wt Cl School Hometown
Zach Amedro QB 6-0 190 JR West Liberty Moundsville, W.V.
Joique Bell RB 6-1 223 SR Wayne State (Mich.) Benton Harbor, Mich.
Nick Graziano QB 6-1 227 SR Arkansas Tech Moraga, Calif.
2009 HARLON HILL TROPHY OTHER FINALISTS
Player Pos. Ht Wt Cl School Hometown
Harrison Beck QB 6-2 220 SR North Alabama Clearwater, Fla.
LaRon Council RB 5-10 210 SR Northwest Missouri St. Kansas City, Mo.
Zack Eskridge QB 6-4 215 JR Midwestern State Rowlett, Texas
Trevor Harris QB 6-2 215 SR Edinboro Waldo, Ohio
Brad Iciek QB 6-1 200 SR Grand Valley State Grandville, Mich.
Isaac Odim RB 6-0 215 JR Minnesota-Duluth Rochester, Minn.