Cameron McDondle honored as Harlon Hill Trophy finalist

Cameron McDondle honored as Harlon Hill Trophy finalist

HARLON HILL RELEASE

FLORENCE, Ala. (December 2, 2015) – Colorado State University-Pueblo senior running back Cameron McDondle (Littleton, Colo.) has been named a finalist for the 2015 Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year, as a field of 38 initial nominees has been trimmed to eight national finalists in regional voting, Wednesday.

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, while only three remain entering the quarterfinal round Saturday.

McDondle became the fourth member of the CSU-Pueblo football team to be a nominee for the award (Chris Bonner in 2013 and Jessie Lewis in 2010 and 2011), but is the first player from the ThunderWolves to be selected as a finalist. 

McDondle is the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year and an All-RMAC First Team selection. He currently ranks second in NCAA Division II in rushing yards (2,129), rushing yards per game (177.4) and rushing touchdowns (24). The senior sits third nationally in rush yards per carry (7.5), fourth in scoring (12.0) and fifth in all-purpose yards (183.83).

As of Nov. 13, McDondle led all levels of NCAA in rushing yards (1,943) and rushing touchdowns (24). He eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark Nov. 28 in the second round victory at top-seeded Midwestern State University to post back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons.

The yards total in 2015 is a program record, while he also owns the program record for touchdowns in a season (24) and in a career (60). McDondle also holds the single-season scoring record (144) and Oct. 24 against then-No. 7 Colorado School of Mines, he rushed for 308 yards, a new program best. 

His total rushing yards this season ranks 16th on NCAA Division II all-time season yards list, while it is second most on the RMAC single-season chart. His rushing touchdowns total is fourth in a single season in conference history. 

With 5,845 career rushing yards and 56 career rushing touchdowns, McDondle is the school's all-time leader and sits second all-time in the conference in both categories to two-time Harlon Hill winner Danny Woodhead (Currently with San Diego Chargers). His nearly 6,000 rushing yards ranks 16th all-time in NCAA Division II.

McDondle will lead the the No. 4 CSU-Pueblo football team Saturday, Dec. 5 as the Pack host No. 12 Grand Valley State University at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in the NCAA Division II Football Quarterfinals. Game time is set for 12 p.m. and single-game tickets are on sale now at the Massari Arean Ticket Office or online at gothundewolves.com.

HARLON HILL FINALIST CAPSULES

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.

HARLON HILL INFORMATION 

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 http://portal.stretchinternet.com/una/.

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.

HARLON HILL HISTORY

North Dakota State quarterback Jeff Bentrim won the initial Hill Trophy in 1986, followed by three-time winner - Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville) running back Johnny Bailey - in 1987, 1988 and 1989.

Another North Dakota State quarterback, Chris Simdorn, claimed the 1990 award, followed by Pittsburg State receiver Ronnie West in 1991, Pittsburg State running back Ronald Moore in 1992, New Haven running back Roger Graham in 1993, Valdosta State quarterback Chris Hatcher in 1994.

North Alabama linebacker Ronald McKinnon became the first and so far only defensive player to win the award in 1995, followed by Truman State running back Jarrett Anderson in 1996, Bloomsburg University running back Irvin Sigler in 1997, Emporia State running back Brian Shay in 1998 and Northern Colorado quarterback Corte McGuffey in 1999.

The award had its second two-time winner when Valdosta State quarterback Dusty Bonner claimed the Hill Trophy in 2000 and 2001.

Grand Valley State quarterback Curt Anes won the Hill Trophy in 2002, followed by North Alabama quarterback Will Hall in 2003, Colorado School of Mines quarterback Chad Friehauf in 2004 and East Stroudsburg's Jimmy Terwilliger in 2005. Four straight Hill Trophies were won by running backs, beginning with Chadron State's Danny Woodhead in 2006 and 2007. Abilene Christian's Bernard Scott won in 2008, followed by Wayne State (Mich.) running back Joique Bell in 2009.

Central Missouri quarterback Eric Czerniewski was the 2010 Hill winner, followed by Mars Hill running back Jonas Randolph in 2011, Shippensburg's Zach Zulli in 2012, Bloomsburg running back Franklyn Quiteh in 2013 and Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan in 2014.

2015 HARLON HILL TROPHY FINALISTS

SUPER REGIONAL 1 (Ht, Wt, Cl, Pos., School, Hometown)   
Matt Soltes (6-3, 220, SR, QB, East Stroudsburg, Vernon, N.J.)
Jeff Ziemba (6-3, 210, JR, QB, Shepherd, Newark, Del.)

SUPER REGIONAL 2 (Ht, Wt, Cl, Pos., School, Hometown)   
Damian Baker (5-8, 195, SR, RB, Carson-Newman, Columbus, Miss.)
Luke Wingo (6-2, 185, SR, QB, North Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
    
SUPER REGIONAL 3 (Ht, Wt, Cl, Pos., School, Hometown)      
Ja'Quan Gardner (5-7, 190, SO, RB, Humboldt State, Ceres, Calif.)
Brent Wilson (6-0, 194, SR, QB, Emporia State, Ponca City, Okla.)

SUPER REGIONAL 4 (Ht, Wt, Cl, Pos., School, Hometown)      
Cameron McDondle (5-7, 202, SR, RB, Colorado State-Pueblo, Littleton, Colo.)
Jason Vander Laan (6-4, 244, SR, QB, Ferris State, Frankfort, Ill.)

Alphabetical Listing of National Finalists
Damian Baker (5-8, 195, SR, RB, Carson-Newman, Columbus, Miss.)
Ja'Quan Gardner (5-7, 190, SO, RB, Humboldt State, Ceres, Calif.)
Cameron McDondle (5-7, 202, SR, RB, Colorado State-Pueblo, Littleton, Colo.)
Matt Soltes (6-3, 220, SR, QB, East Stroudsburg, Vernon, N.J.)
Jason Vander Laan (6-4, 244, SR, QB, Ferris State, Frankfort, Ill.)
Brent Wilson (6-0, 194, SR, QB, Emporia State, Ponca City, Okla.)
Luke Wingo (6-2, 185, SR, QB, North Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
Jeff Ziemba (6-3, 210, JR, QB, Shepherd, Newark, Del.)

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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University – Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.