FLORENCE, Ala. — Shippensburg (Pa.) University junior quarterback Zach Zulli claimed the Harlon Hill Trophy Friday as the 2012 Division II College Football Player of the Year.
Zulli, the seveth underclassman to win the trophy in its 27-year history, received 202 total points and held a 64-point margin over Missouri Western State University running back Michael Hill. Bloomsburg (Pa.) University junior running backFranklyn Quiteh was third with 101 points.
The award winner is determined in voting by the Division II sports information directors and was presented in front of a crowd of 400 at the 27th annual Harlon Hill Trophy award banquet at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center.
The Harlon Hill Trophy is sponsored by the City of Florence, Florence-Lauderdale Tourism, Opti-Net, Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa and Herff Jones.
Zulli, from Schwenksville, Pa., was selected the 2012 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Year and led Shippensburg to an 11-2 record and to the second round of the NCAA playoffs. He set NCAA Division II record for points responsible for in a season (336) and touchdowns responsible for in a season (56). He also tied a Division II record with 54 touchdown passes. He threw for 4,747 yards and 54 touchdowns while completing 62.8 percent of his passes and throwing just 10 interceptions in 544 pass attempts this season. He leads Division II in points responsible for with 344 or 26.46 points per game. He ranks fourth in Division II in passing yards per game (365.15), third in total offense (382.38), fifth in pass efficiency (165.25) and ninth in completions per game (26.31).
Zulli is the third Hill Trophy winner from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, joining Irvin Sigler of Bloomsburg (1997) and Jimmy Terwilliger of East Stroudsburg (2005). His 202 points in this year’s voting is the highest since 2008 and is the ninth highest total in the award’s 27-year history. Hill’s 138 points marked the second highest vote total ever for a runner-up and was actually higher than the point totals received by six previous winners.
With Zulli first and Quiteh third, it marked just the fourth time that two student-athletes from the same conference finished in the Top Three.
Following Zulli, Hill and Quiteh in the voting were junior quarterback Dustin Vaughan of West Texas A&M (68 points), senior quarterback Taylor Housewright of Ashland University (64), sophomore quarterback Kevin Rodgers of Henderson State University (61), senior running back Derrick Washington of Tuskegee University (48) and senior wide receiver Chris Bowden of Wingate University (32).
* * *
The Hill Trophy is named for a former UNA player – Harlon Hill – who was a standout with the Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears.
North Dakota State quarterback Jeff Bentrim won the initial Hill Trophy in 1986, before Texas A&M-Kingsville running back Johnny Bailey won three straight Hill trophies from 1987-89.
Another North Dakota State quarterback, Chris Simdorn, claimed the 1990 award, followed by Pittsburg State’s Ronnie West in 1991 and Ronald Moore in 1992, New Haven running back Roger Graham in 1993, Valdosta State quarterback Chris Hatcher in 1994, North Alabama linebacker Ronald McKinnon in 1995 , Truman State running back Jarrett Anderson in 1996, Bloomsburg running back Irvin Sigler in 1997, Emporia State running back Brian Shay in 1998 , Northern Colorado quarterback Corte McGuffey in 1999, Valdosta State quarterback Dusty Bonner in 2000 and 2001, and Grand Valley State quarterback Curt Anes in 2002. University of North Alabama senior quarterback Will Hall claimed the trophy in 2003. Colorado-Mines quarterback Chad Friehauf took the trophy in 2004, East Stroudsburg’s Jimmy Terwilliger in 2005, Chadron State’s Danny Woodhead in 2006 and 2007 and Abilene Christian’s Bernard Scott in 2008. Wayne State (Mich.) running back Joique Bell won the 2009 Hill Trophy, followed by Central Missouri quarterback Eric Czerniewski in 2010 and Mars Hill running back Jonas Randolph last year.
Courtesy: UNA Media Relations