Harlon Hill Trophy
Awarded forNCAA Division II college football player of the year
LocationFlorence, Alabama
CountryUnited States
Presented byNational Harlon Hill Awards Committee
Sports information directors
First award1986
Most recentZach Zebrowski, QB, Central Missouri[1]

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

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.[2]

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.[2]

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 on the North Alabama campus in Florence, Alabama. Even though the D-II title game moved to Kansas City, Kansas in 2016, the award ceremony continues to be held in Florence.[2]


The Harlon Hill Trophy is 30 inches (76 cm) and weighs 63 pounds (29 kg). The football on top is a life-size replica of an actual game football and sits on a solid walnut base.[3] The approximate value of the trophy is $2,300. It was created by Herff Jones 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 something or somewhere called '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.[4]

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.[5] Ronald Moore was taken by the Phoenix Cardinals in the fourth round in 1993 and played six seasons.[6] Bernard Scott was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round in 2009 and debuted during his rookie season in 2010.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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

Four players have won the award multiple times: Johnny Bailey in 1987, 1988, and 1989, Dusty Bonner in 2000 and 2001, Danny Woodhead in 2006 and 2007, and Jason Vander Laan in 2014 and 2015. All but one winner (Ronald McKinnon, 1995) have been offensive positions.[10]


Year Player School Position
1986 Jeff Bentrim North Dakota State QB
1987 Johnny Bailey Texas A&M–Kingsville RB
1990 Chris Simdorn North Dakota State QB
1991 Ronnie West Pittsburg State WR
1992 Ronald Moore RB
1993 Roger Graham New Haven
1994 Chris Hatcher Valdosta State QB
1995 Ronald McKinnon North Alabama LB
1996 Jarrett Anderson Truman RB
1997 Irvin Sigler Bloomsburg
1998 Brian Shay Emporia State
1999 Corte McGuffey Northern Colorado QB
2000 Dusty Bonner Valdosta State
2002 Curt Anes Grand Valley State
2003 Will Hall North Alabama
2004 Chad Friehauf Colorado School of Mines
2005 Jimmy Terwilliger East Stroudsburg
2006 Danny Woodhead Chadron State RB
2008 Bernard Scott Abilene Christian
2009 Joique Bell Wayne State (MI)
2010 Eric Czerniewski Central Missouri QB
2011 Jonas Randolph Mars Hill RB
2012 Zach Zulli Shippensburg QB
2013 Franklyn Quiteh Bloomsburg RB
2014 Jason Vander Laan Ferris State QB
2016 Justin Dvorak Colorado School of Mines
2017 Luis Perez Texas A&M–Commerce
2018 Jayru Campbell Ferris State
2019 Roland Rivers III Slippery Rock
2020 Not awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 Tyson Bagent Shepherd QB
2022 John Matocha Colorado School of Mines
2023 Zach Zebrowski Central Missouri

Trophies won by school

This is a list of the colleges and universities who have had a player win a Hill trophy: Colorado Mines, Texas A&M–Kingsville, Valdosta State, and Ferris State are tied for the most trophies at 3 each. Eight schools have had two different players claim the award—Bloomsburg, Central Missouri, Ferris State, North Alabama, North Dakota State, Pittsburg State, and Valdosta State. Texas A&M–Kingsville boasts the only three-time winner, Johnny Bailey. Mines is the only program to have three different winners. In total, players from 20 different schools have won a Harlon Hill, while ten schools have more than one trophy.

School Trophies
Colorado Mines 3
Texas A&M–Kingsville 3
Ferris State 3
Valdosta State 3
Bloomsburg 2
Central Missouri 2
Chadron State 2
North Alabama§ 2
North Dakota State§ 2
Pittsburg State 2
Abilene Christian§ 1
East Stroudsburg 1
Emporia State 1
Grand Valley State 1
Mars Hill 1
New Haven 1
Northern Colorado§ 1
Shepherd 1
Shippensburg 1
Truman 1
Wayne State (MI) 1
Colorado Mesa 1
Texas A&M–Commerce§ 1
Slippery Rock 1

†previously known as Texas A&I
§currently an NCAA Division I FCS program



  1. ^ "Zach Zebrowski wins Harlon Hill Trophy".
  2. ^ a b c "How The Winner is Selected". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
  3. ^ "The History of the Harlon Hill Trophy". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  4. ^ "Who is Harlon Hill?". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  5. ^ "Johnny Bailey". National Football League. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  6. ^ "Ronald Moore". National Football League. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  7. ^ "Bernard Scott". Cincinnati Bengals. Archived from the original on August 28, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  8. ^ "Danny Woodhead". National Football League. Retrieved December 28, 2009.
  9. ^ McIntyre, Jeff (December 19, 2009). "The Graduate, Starring Ronald McKinnon". Times Daily. Retrieved December 28, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Previous Harlon Hill Trophy Winners". National Harlon Hill Awards Committee. Retrieved December 28, 2009.