As UNA Moves To Division I, Harlon Hill’s Legacy Lives On

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Harlon Hill speaking at a previous Harlon Hill Trophy ceremony (Photo Courtesy HarlonHill.com)

Florence, Ala. – In 1995, an effort began to move The University of North Alabama athletic program from Division II to Division I.  Next season, that effort becomes a reality as UNA football will join the Big South Conference.  With that move comes many changes.  One of those changes is the opportunity for UNA football players to win The Harlon Hill Trophy.  The Harlon Hill Trophy, first awarded in 1986, was named for former Lauderdale County High School, UNA (Florence State), and NFL player Harlon Hill.  It is an award given to the individual selected as the most valuable player in NCAA Division II.  The Harlon Hill Trophy is considered the Heisman Trophy of Division II football.   Former winners from UNA have been Ronald McKinnon (1995) and Will Hall (2003). This year, UNA quarterback Jacob Tucker, who will be playing in the Division II National Championship on Saturday against Northwest Missouri State in Kansas City, is a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy.  Because of the transition from Division I to Division II, beginning in the 2017-2018 season,  Jacob Tucker will be the last UNA player to have an opportunity to receive this special honor. While the move to Division I is very exciting, it is a bittersweet moment when thinking about The Harlon Hill Trophy.  As Harlon Hill’s daughter, Teresa Hill Robertson, put it, “it is the end of a bygone era”.  Upon the passing of Harlon Hill in 2013, Assistant Athletic Director/Communications Jeff Hodges said, “Harlon was always very gracious and humbled that his story and legacy could be used to inspire new generations of student-athletes to excel and dream of what they could accomplish.”  The Harlon Hill Trophy will always be a special part of North Alabama Football even as they begin this new chapter in their storied football history.  Harlon Hill will always be an integral part of UNA football history and his story and legacy will continue to be used to inspire new generations of student-athletes as they excel and dare to dream of what they can accomplish.  You can “Mark It Down”.  Roar Lions!

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