FLORENCE, Ala. (GoThunderWolves.com - Nov. 14, 2013) - CSU-Pueblo junior quarterback Chris Bonner (Jr., San Diego, Calif.) was selected as a candidate for the Harlon Hill Award, honoring the top player in NCAA Division II, the Harlon Hill Award committee announced Thursday.
Bonner, in his first season with the ThunderWolves, has set touchdown pass records for the Pack in 2013, leading CSU-Pueblo to a 10-0 record and a ranking of third in the nation in the latest AFCA Division II Coaches' Poll rankings. Bonner is also on pace to break CSU-Pueblo single season records for passing yardage. He has yet to lose a game as a starting quarterback at CSU-Pueblo.
Candidates for the 2013 Harlon Hill Trophy, honoring the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year, were 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.
The winner of the 2013 award, which is presented by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, will be announced at the 28th annual Harlon Hill Trophy Presentation Banquet on Friday, December 20 at the Florence Conference Center at 6:30 p.m. This year's Hill Trophy Banquet will also include the 15th induction into the Division II Football Hall of Fame.
The NCAA Division II Championship Game is scheduled for December 21 at Florence's Braly Municipal Stadium at noon.
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 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.
A total of 13 of the 28 candidates are on teams currently ranked in the NCAA Division II Top 25.
The list of candidates for the 2013 Hill Trophy includes 2012 winner Zach Zulli of Shippensburg University, third-place finisher Franklyn Quiteh of Bloomsburg University and sixth place finisher Kevin Rodgers of Henderson State University.
Among the players vying for the 2013 award from the Super Region 1 are senior quarterback Nigel Barksdale of Slippery Rock University (Pa.), senior quarterback Joe Clancy of Merrimack College; senior quarterback D.J. Mendenhall of Urbana (Ohio) University, senior running back Franklyn Quiteh of Bloomsburg (Pa.) University, sophomore quarterback Matt Soltes of East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University, senior running back Rondell White of West Chester (Pa.) University and senior quarterback Zach Zulli of Shippensburg (Pa.) University.
Candidates from Super Regional 2 are senior quarterback Kyle Caldwell of the University of West Alabama, senior quarterback Luke Charles of the University of North Carolina Pembroke, senior quarterback Bo Cordell of Tusculum College (Tenn.), senior wide receiver Freddie Martino of North Greenville University, senior quarterback Robbie Nallenweg of Wingate University (N.C.), senior quarterback Chris Rini of Lane College (Tenn.) and senior linebacker Tavarius Wilson of the University of North Alabama.
Super Regional 3 is represented by senior wide receiver John Brown of Pittsburg State University (Kan.), junior wide receiver Marquez Clark of the University of Central Oklahoma, senior quarterback Phillip Klaphake of St. Cloud State Universty (Minn.), junior quarterback Kevin Rodgers of Henderson State University (Ark.), junior running back Chris Smith of Upper Iowa University, junior running back Tyler Tonderum of Southwest Minnesota State University and senior quarterback Jon Wolf of Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Selected from Super Regional 4 are junior quarterback Chris Bonner of Colorado State University, Pueblo, senior tailback Glen Clinton of Chadron State College (Neb.), sophomore running back Daiquone Ford of the University of Findlay (Ohio), senior running back Keidrick Jackson of Midwestern State University (Texas), senior quarterback Jonathon Jennings of Saginaw Valley State University (Mich.), sophomore quarterback Jason Vander Laan of Ferris State University (Mich.) and senior quarterback Dustin Vaughan of West Texas A&M.
More on the history of the Harlon Hill Award
North Dakota State quarterback Jeff Bentrim won the initial Hill Trophy in 1986, followed by three-time winner - Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) running back 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, Valdosta State quarterback Chris Hatcher in 1994.
North Alabama linebacker Ronald McKinnon became the first and so far only defensive player to win the award in 1995, followed by Truman State running back Jarrett Anderson in 1996, Bloomsburg University running back Irvin Sigler in 1997, Emporia State running back Brian Shay in 1998 and Northern Colorado quarterback Corte McGuffey in 1999.
The award had its second two-time winner when Valdosta State quarterback Dusty Bonner claimed the Hill Trophy in 2000 and 2001.
Grand Valley State quarterback Curt Anes won the Hill Trophy in 2002, followed by North Alabama quarterback Will Hall in 2003, Colorado School of Mines quarterback Chad Friehauf in 2004 and East Stroudsburg's Jimmy Terwilliger in 2005. Four straight Hill Trophies were won by running backs, beginning with Chadron State's Danny Woodhead in 2006 and 2007. Abilene Christian's Bernard Scott won in 2008, followed by Wayne State (Mich.) running back Joique Bell in 2009.
Central Missouri quarterback Eric Czerniewski was the 2010 Hill winner, followed by Mars Hill running back Jonas Randolph in 2011 and Zulli in 2012.