Courtesy: ACU Release: 11/20/2007
FLORENCE, Ala. -- Abilene Christian running back Bernard Scott, the leading scorer in NCAA Division II football this season, is one of nine finalists for this year's Harlon Hill Award, which is awarded annually to the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year.
The top two players from each of the Northeast, Southwest and Northwest regions advanced through regional voting, as well as three from the Southeast where there was a tie in the voting. The finalists were selected by the NCAA Division II sports information directors in regional voting and are now on the national ballot where all 149 of the division's SIDs will select the award's 22nd winner.
The list of 2007 finalists is comprised of four running backs, three quarterbacks, a receiver and a linebacker.
Seven of the finalists have helped lead their teams into the NCAA Division II playoffs this season, including the 2006 Hill Trophy Winner Danny Woodhead of Chadron State.
Advancing from the Southwest region are Woodhead and Scott. Finalists from the Northeast region are senior running back Jamar Brittingham of Bloomsburg, who was a finalist in 2005, and senior running back Dervon Wallace of Shepherd. Sophomore quarterback Brad Iciek of Grand Valley State University and senior wide receiver Weston Dressler of the University of North Dakota were selected from the Northwest region. Southeast Region finalists include senior linebacker Michael Eubanks of Delta State Universiity, junior quarterback David Knighton of Harding University and junior quarterback A.J. Milwee of the University of North Alabama.
The second round of this weekend's Division II playoffs will feature three head-to-head matchups between Hill finalists. Eubanks and Milwee will face off in the North Alabama-Delta State game, Iciek and Dressler will meet in the Grand Valley State-North Dakota game and Scott and Woodhead will compete against each other in the Abilene Christian-Chadron State game.
The Hill Trophy is sponsored by Coca-Cola, the City of Florence, Ala., Trustmark Construction, Herff Jones, the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa and Opti-Net.
Candidates for the 2007 Hill Trophy were 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.
National voting will conclude on November 30 and the top three finishers will be invited to to The Shoals for the presentation banquet. The winner of the 2007 award, which is presented by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, will be announced at the Harlon Hill Trophy and Division II Football Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, December 14 in Florence, prior to the NCAA Division II Football Championship Game on Dec. 15.
Tickets are $45 each or $360 for a table of eight and can be purchased by calling the Shoals Chamber of Commerce at (256) 764-4661.
Scott, named last week as the Offensive Back of the Year in the Lone Star Conference South Division, has scored 33 touchdowns and 198 points this season, which leads all of Division II football. Both of those totals are tied with Omar Cuff of Delaware as both lead all divisions of NCAA football in those categories.
Scott enters Saturday's second-round playoff game with a school single-season record 1,862 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground. That season rushing total is the 27th-best single-season rushing total in NCAA Division II football history. He is third in NCAA Division II football in rushing yards and fifth in rushing yards per game (155.2).
"This is a great honor for Bernard and for our team," ACU head coach Chris Thomsen said. "This is both a team and an individual award. I'm proud of our team, and I'm proud of Bernard for all the hard work he's put in to get himself in this position. He worked extremely hard in the offseason and over the summer to prepare himself for this season, and that hard work has paid off for him. It's good to see his efforts recognized."
Here's a short bio on each of the nine candidates:
Scott, a junior from Vernon, Texas, ranks third in Division II in rushing with a 157.9 yard average and leads the nation in scoring with 198 points and 33 touchdowns. He is third in all-purpose yards with 201.5 per game. Scott's 1,862 rushing yards is the second highest single season total in Lone Star Conference history behind only three-time Hill Trophy winner Johnny Bailey's 2,011 yards in 1986. He has helped lead Abilene Christian to a 10-2 record and into the second round of the playoffs.
Dressler, a junior from Bismarck, N.D., was named first-team All-North Central Conference at three positions - receiver, return specialist and utility player. He is believed to be the first player in the league's history to have accomplished that feat. He is just the fourth player in NCC history to be first-team all-conference four times. This season he has 71 catches for 1,178 yards and 12 touchdowns and has helped lead North Dakota to a 10-1 record entering this weekend's second round playoff game.
Eubanks, a senior from Cleveland, Miss., set the all-time Division II career record for quarterback sacks with 39 for 249 yards. He ranks third all-time in Division II history in career tackles for loss with 67.5 for 355 yards. He leads the nation's third ranked defense with 84 tackles, 12 sacks and 24 tackles for loss, and he has helped lead Delta State to a 10-1 record that includes a Gulf South Conference Championship and a spot in this weekend's NCAA playoffs.
Iciek, a sophomore from Allendale, Mich., has helped lead Grand Valley State to a perfect 10-0 record,a conference championship and a No.1 ranking in the Division II national poll all season. He ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency with a 184.8 rating, having thrown for 2,248 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has thrown just six interceptions in 215 passes, while completing 138.
Knighton, a junior from Seminole, Okla., ranks third nationally in passing yards with a 319.8 average and is also third in the nation in total offense with 331 yards per game. He threw three or more touchdown passes in a game six times this season, including seven TD passes in one game - while rushing for an eighth.
Milwee, a junior from Boaz, Ala., has a 20-2 record as a starting quarterback at North Alabama and is ranked among the national leaders in passing efficiency. He has thrown for 2,268 yards and 20 touchdowns this season while leading UNA to a 9-1 record and into the second round of the Division II playoffs. He has rushed or thrown for at least one touchdown in all 22 of his starts.
Wallace, a senior from Lusby, Md., leads Division II in rushing this season with an average of 195.2 yards per game. He has scored 21 rushing touchdowns to rank fifth in scoring, and he leads the nation in all-purpose yardage with 2,270. He rushed for more than 300 yards in a game twice and had 280 yards in another contest. He has led Shepherd to a perfect 11-0 record and to the second round of the playoffs.
Woodhead, a senior from North Platte, Neb., is the leading rusher in all divisions in the history of NCAA collegiate football. Despite being injured for part of the 2007 season, he has rushed for 1,319 yards and 18 touchdowns. He scored in 38 straight games to set another all-divisions record and his 35 career 100-yard rushing games broke the Division II record. He is just the sixth Division II player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in all four seasons and his 19 career 200-plus yard rushing games is also an NCAA record. His 146.6 yards per game this season ranks eighth in the nation and he has led Chadron to a perfect 11-0 record and into the second round of the playoffs. Woodhead is trying to become just the third player to win the Hill Trophy twice.