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Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University junior quarterback Jayru Campbell (Detroit/Cass Tech) was officially recognized on Thursday (Jan. 10) evening and presented the Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II National Player of the Year in Little Rock, Ark.
Campbell was among a select group of prestigious award recipiens recognized by the Little Rock Touchdown Club at its annual awards banquet at the Embassy Suites in Little Rock. He was joined at the banquet by family along with FSU head coach Tony Annese, Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger and Vice President Jerry Scoby. Members of the Harlon Hill family were also on hand to present the honor to him in addition to special guest and featured speaker Desmond Howard.
Campbell, who has directed the Bulldogs to the NCAA Division II National Championship game for the first time in school history, was announced via a live nationwide webcast in December as the Harlon Hill Trophy winner, joining former FSU standout quarterback and two-time winner Jason Vander Laan (2014-15) as the second-ever Ferris State athlete to claim the prize. He's the fourth-ever player from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) to win the honor and became the third FSU player to claim the honor as the country's most outstanding player in the last five years.
The finalists for the honor were selected by the NCAA Division II sports information directors in regional voting and were placed on the national ballot where all 168 of the division's SIDs selected the award's 33rd winner.
Five quarterbacks, two running backs, one wide receiver and a defensive end comprised the list of 2018 finalists. Five of the finalists helped guide their teams into the 2018 NCAA Division II playoffs.
A consensus first-team All-American, Campbell is one of six players in school history who have been a national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, joining former Ferris State quarterback Bill Love (2nd, 1995), linebacker Monty Brown (5th, 1992), wide receiver Clarence Coleman (5th, 2001) and quarterback Dave DenBraber (7th, 1987) along with two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jason Vander Laan (2014-15), who was the only previous FSU player to win the coveted prize prior to this year.
Along with Campbell, the other national finalists included: Notre Dame College freshman running back Jaleel McLaughlin and Hillsdale senior quarterback Chance Stewart from Super Region #1, Bowie State senior QB Amir Hall and Valdosta State sophomore QB Rogan Wells from Super Region #2, Campbell and Emporia State senior QB Braxton Marstall along with Southern Arkansas senior receiver Ka'Ronce Higgins from Super Region #3, and Angelo State senior defensive end Markus Jones and Sioux Falls junior running back Gabriel Watson from Super Region #4.
Overall, Campbell was one of only two juniors and four non-seniors among the nine national finalists.
The Hill Trophy is named for the late Harlon Hill, a former University of North Alabama standout, who excelled with the UNA Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears.
Campbell led Ferris State into its first NCAA Division II Championship game. The junior quarterback from Detroit led all NCAA Division II quarterbacks in rushing with 1,460 yards while throwing for 2,931 with 27 touchdowns. The GLIAC Player of the Year accounted for a national-best 49 touchdowns for the 15-1 Bulldogs.
Ferris State capped off the most successful season in school history by reaching the NCAA Division II National Championship game for the first time this fall. FSU matched an all-time NCAA record with 15 victories (15-1) and won both the GLIAC and Super Region Three Championships this year under head coach Tony Annese.