Luke Wingo one of 8 finalist for Harlon Hill Award

Luke Wingo one of 8 finalist for Harlon Hill Award

From UNA Athletics release:

(FLORENCE, AL) - A field of 38 initial nominees has been trimmed to eight national finalists in regional voting for the 2015 Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year.

The finalists were selected by the NCAA Division II sports information directors in regional voting and will now be placed on the national ballot where all 168 of the division's SIDs will select the award's 30th winner. The top two players  from each of Division II's four Super Regions advanced to the national ballot.

The list of 2015 finalists is comprised of five quarterbacks and three running backs.

Seven of the finalists helped lead their teams into the 2015 NCAA Division II playoffs.

Advancing from Super Region 1 are senior quarterback Matt Soltes of East Stroudsburg University (Pa.) and junior quarterback Jeff Ziemba of Shepherd University (W.V.).

Soltes leads Division II in passing touchdowns with 41 and is second nationally in  passing yards per game (354.5), third in total offense (373.6) and fourth in points responsible for per game (24.0). He completed 277 of 486 passes for 3,900 yards and had 4,110 yards of total offense.

Ziemba has led Shepherd to an 11-0 record and into the quarterfinals of the Division II Playoffs. He has completed 207 of 328 passes for 3,017 yards and 27 touchdowns and has been intercepted only three times. He is third nationally in passing efficiency (165.7) and is 25th in passing yards per game (274.3)

Super Region 2 is represented by senior running back Damian Baker of Carson-Newman College and senior quarterback Luke Wingo of the University of North Alabama.

Baker averaged 116.9 yards rushing per game this season while leading the Eagles to an 8-3 record and into the first round of the playoffs. He finished with 1,403 yards and 18 touchdowns on 196 carries.

Wingo led UNA to a 9-3 record and into the second round of the Division II Playoffs. He is sixth nationally in passing efficiency with a 162.8 rating after throwing for 3,203 yards and 25 touchdowns. He completed 231 of 343 passes and also rushed for eight touchdowns.

The top vote getters in Super Region 3 are sophomore running back  Ja'Quan Gardner of Humboldt  State University (Calif.) and senior quarterback Brent Wilson of Emporia State University (Kan.).

Gardner leads Division II in rushing yards per game (188.8) and is second in all purpose yards per game (197.9) and scoring (12.5). He has rushed for 2,266 yards and 25 touchdowns on 337 carries. He led Humboldt State to a 10-2 record and into the second round of the Division II Playoffs.

Wilson has led Emporia State to an 11-2 record and into the quarterfinal round of the playoffs. He is 11th nationally in passing yards per game (301.5), total offense (347.7) and sixth in points responsible for per game (20.0). He is 314 of 483 passing for 3,920 yards and 39 touchdowns.

Advancing from Super Region 4  are senior running back Cameron McDondle of Colorado State University, Pueblo and senior quarterback Jason Vander Laan of Ferris State University (Mich.).

McDondle averages 177.4 yards rushing per game this season to rank second nationally and is fourth in Division II in scoring (12.0) and fifth in all-purpose yards (183.8). He has gained 2,129 yards on 284 carries and scored 24 touchdowns while leading CSU-Pueblo to a 12-1 record and into the quarterfinals of the playoffs this weekend.

Vander Laan, the 2014 Harlon Hill Trophy winner, completed his senior season with 4,167 yards of total offense after rushing for 1,542 and passing for 2,625. His 347.3 yards of total offense per game rank sixth nationally and he is ninth in rushing at 128.5.

He rushed for 24 touchdowns and threw for another 27 to rank second in Division II in points responsible for wit 25.5 per game. He completed 210 of 320 passes with just seven interceptions and ranked ninth nationally in passing efficiency with a 158.0 rating.

National voting will conclude on December 12 and the winner of the 2015 award, which is presented by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, will be announced on Friday, December 18 via a webcast at

The winner will be honored at a luncheon on the University of North Alabama campus on January 8, 2016.

The Hill Trophy is sponsored by the City of Florence, Ala., Opti-Net, Herff Jones and the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa.