The thick of the Division II football playoffs also coincides with postseason award season, too. Among them is the Harlon Hill trophy, the most prestigious award at that level.
Of all the talented players in the Division II ranks, 48 players have been nominated for the award. Among them, three come from HBCU programs.
They include Virginia Union running back Jada Byers, Fort Valley State running back Emanuel Wilson, and Elizabeth City State linebacker Juanya Majette.
Of these candidates, Byers might be the most likely to be named a finalist for the award. He is coming off a season in which he led the nation in rushing yards per game and all-purpose yards on his way to being named CIAA Offensive Player of the Year.
Byers also set a Virginia Union school record for rushing yards in a season with 1,920, a CIAA record that stood for 27 years.
The Panthers’ sophomore helped lead his team to a 9-1 overall record and a Division II home playoff game for the first time since 1990.
From the CIAA Offensive Player of the Year to the SIAC Offensive Player of the Year, Wilson also had an incredible season on the ground.
He led the SIAC in rushing yards (1,371), rushing touchdowns (17), all-purpose yards (1,610), and total touchdowns (19). The Wildcats junior became the first Fort Valley State player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since 2004.
Wilson recently announced that he would forgo his senior season with FVSU and enter the 2023 NFL Draft.
Finally, most may not be familiar with Elizabeth City State’s Majette, but it’s safe to say opposing offensive players know him very well.
The Vikings’ senior linebacker was among the top defenders in the CIAA, recording 81 total tackles, and three passes defended, including an interception and a forced fumble.
Regional voting for the Harlon Hill trophy is set to conclude on Nov. 28. The winner will be announced on Dec. 16 and receive the award on Jan. 13, 2023, at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet.