Florida Tech’s J.T. Hassell Among Nominees For D2 Heisman Trophy Known as Harlon Hill Award
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Sports // November 20, 2018
Hassell named GSC Defensive Player of the year, set school record for tackles in a season
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Florida Tech senior J.T. Hassell is a nominee for the 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II College Football Player of the Year.
Hassell is one of 37 players nominated for the award.
The group includes 13 quarterbacks, nine running backs, eight wide receivers, three defensive ends, three linebackers, and one defensive back. Of the 37 candidates, there are 21 seniors, 10 juniors, four sophomores, and two freshmen.
The Titusville-product was recently named the GSC Defensive Player of the Year, becoming just the second player in program history to receive the honor. Hassell was also a First Team All-GSC selection this year.
The senior linebacker leads the GSC with 124 tackles and 77 tackles for loss, while his three forced fumbles are tied for most in the league. Hassell is tied for fourth in the conference with 9.5 tackles for loss this season.
In addition to setting the single-season record for tackles (124) in 2018, Hassell set program single-game records for tackles in a game (20) and sacks in a game (4.0).
The sports information directors at the 166 NCAA Division II football-playing institutions nominate and vote on the award.
The 37 initial candidates will be placed on regional ballots and the top two players from each of the four NCAA regions will advance to the national ballot when regional voting concludes on Monday, November 26.
The winner of the 2018 award will be announced on Friday, December 14 and the winner will be honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet on January 10, 2019.
The Hill Trophy is named for the late Harlon Hill – the former University of North Alabama standout – who excelled with the Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears.
Four Gulf South Conference players have won the award five times. Valdosta State’s Dusty Bonner won the award in back-to-back seasons in 2000 and 2001 for the Blazers. The last GSC player to win the honor was North Alabama quarterback Will Hall in 2003
There is good news and bad news when it comes to Hassell’s nomination. First given out in 1986, only once has a defensive player won the honor.
The good news is that player was a linebacker from a Gulf South Conference team.
Ronald McKinnon won the honor in 1995 with North Alabama. Mckinnon went on to play in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals from 1996 until 2004 and then spent one year with the Saints. McKinnon was eventually inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
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