Harlon Hill, legendary Division 2 college football player, has died at the age of 80. Hill passed away at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence, Alabama on Thursday according to Jeff Hodges, chairman of the National Harlon Hill Award Committee.
Hill was a standout player at Florence State Teachers College, now known as the University of North Alabama, in the early to mid 1950s. The wide receiver was an NAIA All-American and went on to have a successful career in the National Football League. After being drafted in the 15th round of the 1954 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Hill was named the NFL's rookie of the year in 1954 and the Newspaper Enterprise Association MVP in 1955. Hill was also named to three Pro Bowl rosters through his career, which was cut short due to injury after nine seasons with time in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Following his NFL career Hill returned to school to receive his Masters Degree in Education from the University of North Alabama. Hill became a public school teacher and later was named principal.
Hill's name is attached to the Harlon Hill Trophy, awarded to the top player at the Division 2 football level for the past 27 years. North Dakota State quarterback Jeff Bentrim was the first player to receive the award in 1986. Shippensburg quarterback Zach Zulli received the award for the 2012 season.