LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Three Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) football standouts have been nominated for the 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II College Football Player of the Year. Overall, 37 total nominees from across the nation were announced by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee.
Ferris State junior quarterback Jayru Campbell, Northern Michigan senior running back Jake Mayon and Grand Valley State senior quarterback Bart Williams achieved nomination status as part of the eight nominees from Super Regional 3.
Campbell has made the most of his first season as FSU's starting quarterback, leading the Bulldogs to their first unbeaten regular-season and conference title since 2015. A Harlon Hill Trophy candidate, Campbell leads all quarterbacks nationally in rushing yardage and is among the nation's leaders in points responsible for, passing effiency, scoring and total offense. The standout QB has completed nearly 60% of his passes for 2,368 yards while running for a team-best 1,162 yards and 19 TD's in regular-season action. Behind his play, FSU has earned a fifth-straight NCAA Division II Playoff appearance as one of the region's top two teams. Campbell has accounted for 42 touchdowns while helping FSU rank among the national leaders in total offense, rushing and scoring this season.
Mayon set two school records during his senior campaign while leading the GLIAC in rushing for the season. He became the first player in school history to achieve 1,500 rushing yards in a season and set a new NMU single season rushing record, finishing the year with 1,505 yards on the ground while score 14 touchdowns. That total also placed him sixth nationally in Division II. He averaged 136.8 yards rushing per game and posted two games with over 200 rushing yards with three more games over 170 rushing yards. Against Michigan Technological University, Mayon became the school's career rushing leader and will finish his career with 4,220 yards.
Williams moved into third in career touchdown passes at GVSU with 126 and 12th in career passing yards with 12,302. In addition, Williams tied the all-time NCAA DII record for games having thrown a TD pass at 47. Williams also finished his career second on the all-time GLIAC passing touchdowns list with 90, one behind former Laker Curt Anes.
Grand Valley State quarterback Curt Anes won the Hill Trophy in 2002 followed by Wayne State running back Joique Bell in 2009. Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan became the fourth two-time winner hoisting the trophy in both 2014 and 2015.
Nine nominees hail from Super Region 1, nine from Super Region 2, eight from Super Region 3 and 11 from Super Region 4.
The sports information directors at the 166 NCAA Division II football-playing institutions nominate and vote on the award. The 37 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 Monday, November 26.
The winner of the 2018 award will be announced on Friday, December 14 and the winner will be honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet on January 10, 2019.
The sports information directors at their respective schools initially nominate candidates. The SIDs in those Super Regions vote for their top five candidates. The winner is then determined in a nation-wide vote of the Division II sports information directors.
The group of 37 candidates includes 13 quarterbacks, nine running backs, eight wide receivers, three defensive ends, three linebackers and one defensive back. The list features 21 seniors, 10 juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen. One nominee - Bowie State's Amir Hall, in 2017 - previously advanced to the finalist stage.
The Hill Trophy is named for the late Harlon Hill - the former University of North Alabama standout - who excelled with the Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears.