Ferris State’s Jayru Campbell honored as 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy Award recipient

Ferris State’s Jayru Campbell is the second-ever Ferris State athlete to claim the Harlon Hill Trophy. (Photo courtesy of Ferris State Athletics)

BIG RAPIDS — For the third time in the past five seasons, the nation’s top NCAA Division II Football player is from Ferris State University as Bulldog junior quarterback Jayru Campbell (Detroit/Cass Tech) on Friday was named as the 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy recipient presented to the country’s most outstanding player.

Campbell, who has directed the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II National Championship game for the first time in school history, was announced via a live nationwide webcast as the Harlon Hill Trophy winner, joining former FSU standout quarterback and two-time winner Jason Vander Laan (2014-15) as the second-ever Ferris State athlete to claim the prize. He’s the fourth-ever player from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) to win the honor.

As this year’s winner, Campbell will be honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet on Jan. 10, 2019.The finalists were selected by the NCAA Division II sports information directors in regional voting and were placed on the national ballot where all 168 of the division’s SIDs selected the award’s 33rd winner.

Five quarterbacks, two running backs, one wide receiver and a defensive end comprised the list of 2018 finalists. Five of the finalists helped guide their teams into the 2018 NCAA Division II playoffs.

Campbell is one of six players in school history who have been a national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, joining former Ferris State quarterback Bill Love (2nd, 1995), linebacker Monty Brown (5th, 1992), wide receiver Clarence Coleman (5th, 2001) and quarterback Dave DenBraber (7th, 1987) along with two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jason Vander Laan (2014-15), who was the only previous FSU player to win the coveted prize prior to this year.

Along with Campbell, the other national finalists included: Notre Dame College freshman running back Jaleel McLaughlin and Hillsdale senior quarterback Chance Stewart from Super Region #1, Bowie State senior QB Amir Hall and Valdosta State sophomore QB Rogan Wells from Super Region #2, Campbell and Emporia State senior QB Braxton Marstall along with Southern Arkansas senior receiver Ka’Ronce Higgins from Super Region #3, and Angelo State senior defensive end Markus Jones and Sioux Falls junior running back Gabriel Watson from Super Region #4.

Overall, Campbell was one of only two juniors and four non-seniors among the nine national finalists.

The Hill Trophy is named for the late Harlon Hill, a former University of North Alabama standout, who excelled with the UNA Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears.

Campbell led Ferris State into its first NCAA Division II Championship game. The junior quarterback from Detroit leads all NCAA Division II quarterbacks in rushing with 1,338 yards while throwing for 2,832 with 26 touchdowns and five interceptions. The GLIAC Player of the Year has accounted for a national-best 47 touchdowns for the 15-0 Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs will face Valdosta State (Ga.) in the D2 National Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 15, in McKinney, Texas, at 4 p.m. (ET). Both Campbell and fellow Harlon Hill finalist Rogan Wells of Valdosta State will compete in the national championship game. It is believed to be the first time two finalists have taken part in the title game.

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