FLORENCE, Ala. – Three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) student-athletes were named regional finalists for the 2013 Harlon Hill Trophy and the NCAA Division II Player of the year.
The list of candidates from the GLIAC are, University of Findlay sophomore running back Daiquone Ford, Ferris State University sophomore quarterback Jason Vander Laan, and Saginaw Valley State University senior quarterback Jonathon Jennings were announced Thursday morning (Nov. 14) by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee.
The list includes seven players from each of the four Division II Super Regions.
Players are nominated and voted on by the sports information directors at the 168 NCAA Division II football-playing institutions. The 28 initial candidates will be placed on regional ballots and the top two players from each of the four NCAA regions will advance to the national ballot when regional voting concludes on November 22. Candidates were initially 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 candidates.
The group of 28 candidates includes 17 quarterbacks, seven running backs, three receivers and a linebacker. There are 20 seniors, five juniors and three sophomores.
Daiquone Ford – The University of Findlay
RB So. 5-7 236 Myrtle Beach, S.C. / Myrtle Beach
Ford rushed for 1,789 yards and 24 touchdowns in ten games this year before an injury cut his season short. The Myrtle Beach, S.C. native averaged 178.9 rushing yards per game and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. He also added 16 receptions for 141 yards. Ford currently leads the nation with his 24 rushing touchdowns and is ranked second nationally in rushing yards per game. His 193.0 all-purpose yards per game is also the ninth best total in the nation. The sophomore back ran for over 100 yards in nine games this season and set new school records with 44 carries for 317 yards in the Oilers 48-27 win over Lake Erie College on Oct. 27.
Jason Vander Laan – Ferris State University
QB So. 6-4 236 Frankfort, Ill. / Chicago Christian
Vander Laan currently needs only 87 yards in this week's regular-season finale to match the NCAA Division II All-Time Single-Season record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a campaign. He currently has 1,396 total yards this season and is 87 away from tying and 88 from breaking the all-time seasonal mark originally set by Shawn Graves of Wofford in 1989. Vander Laan's current total is the most-ever for a GLIAC quarterback in a season, breaking his own mark established a year ago. In addition, Vander Laan currently ranks as the nation's top running quarterback this year as has totaled more rushing yards on the ground this season than any other signal caller in the country, regardless of level. His 1,396 total yards rushing to date this year is tops among all quarterbacks at the NCAA Division I, II or III level, including both the FBS and FCS levels of competition. Vander Laan also ranks ninth in school history in passing yards with 3,082 total yards. He also currently ranks seventh in school history with 5,816 career yards of total offense. Overall, Vander Laan ranks sixth nationally in rushing touchdowns (18) along with being ranked ninth nationally in rushing yards (1,396) to date this year. Vander Laan is also 11th in the country in scoring (10.8 ppg.) and second in the GLIAC in points responsible for (192). Vander Laan currently needs only 87 yards in this week's regular-season finale to match the NCAA Division II All-Time Single-Season record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a campaign.
Jonathon Jennings – Saginaw Valley State University
QB Sr. 6-2 205 Columbus, Ohio / Westerville South
Jennings has put together a stellar 2013 season in his senior campaign. The Columbus, Ohio native has posted a 68.0% completion percentage while throwing for 2,978 yards and a league-leading 30 touchdowns. Jennings has added 349 yards on the ground with a team-high nine rushing touchdowns. The two-time All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection has broken the GLIAC records for passing (9,247) and total offense (10,280) in conference games only and still has one regular season contest remaining. He broke two SVSU single game records this season, throwing for 541 yards and seven touchdowns in the team’s 47-34 victory over Hillsdale College. Jennings currently leads the nation in passing efficiency with a 194.0 rating.