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HARLON HILL PASSES AWAY AT AGE 80

FLORENCE, Ala. -- Harlon Hill, a former football All-American at the University of North Alabama, a National Football League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player with the Chicao Bears and the namesake for the Division II College Football Player of the Year award, passed away Thursday after a lengthy illness. He was 80.
 
"We are truly saddened by the news of the passing of Harlon Hill," said Jeff Hodges, Chairman of the National Harlon Hill Award Committee and Assistant Athletic Director for Communications at the University of North Alabama. "He was a legend and an inspiration to so many.  In our 27-year relationship with the Hill Trophy, 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. I think he was as appreciative that  he was a part of the creation of an award program that honored Division II athletes as he was that his name was on the trophy."
 
A native of Killen, Ala., Hill was born: May 4, 1932 and graduated from Lauderdale County High School and the University of North Alabama, then Florence State Teachers College, with a B.S. Degree in Education in 1955. He also earned a Masters Degree in Education from UNA in 1969..
 
He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 15th round (174th overall) of the 1954 NFL Draft and earned Rookie of the Year honors in 1954 after catching 45 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 1955 he became the first recipient of the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL Most Valuable Player.  
 
In all he played nine seasons in the National Football League (1954-62) with the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. 

Following his professional football career he became a public school teacher and coach at Brooks High School in Killen, Ala., eventually becoming the schoolís principal.

In 1986 he became the namesake for the Harlon Hill Trophy, presented annually to the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year. The award has been presented for the last 27 years in December on the eve of the Division II Football Championship Game in Florence. 

Hill was inducted into the Lauderdale County Sports Hall of Fame, the University of North Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame, the Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. 

More than 50 years after his playing career ended in Chicago, Hillís 4,616 receiving yards still rank second best in Bears history, as do his 40 career TD receptions. His 19 career 100-yard receiving games are still the most by any Bears receiver. His four receiving TDs in a game against the San Francisco 49ers on October 31, 1954 is tied for Bears record with Mike Dikta and his 214 receiving yards in that game is still a Bears record.  




HARLON HILL BIO


Harlon Junious Hill
* Born: May 4, 1932 in Killen, AL (Age 80) 
* Graduate of Lauderdale County High School in 1949
* Graduate of the University of North Alabama (then Florence State Teachers College) with a 
B.S. Degree in Education in 1955 
* Earned a Masters Degree in Education from the University of North Alabama (1969)
* Drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 15th round (174th overall) of the 1954 NFL Draft.
* Played nine seasons in the National Football League (1954-62) with the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions. 
* Following his professional football career he became a public school teacher and coach at Brooks High School in Killen, Ala., eventually becoming the principal.
* Served as an Assistant Football Coach with the University of North Alabama football team, 1967-68
* In 1986 he became the namesake for the Harlon Hill Trophy, presented annually to the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year


Awards
National Football League Rookie of the Year in 1954
National Football League Jim Thorpe Trophy recipient as MVP in 1955 
Pro Bowl participant in 1954, 1955 and 1956
All-Pro selection in 1954, 1955 and 1956
Captain of the West Squad in the 1956 Pro Bowl
Member of the Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame (1958)
Member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (1976)
Member of the University of North Alabama Athletic Hall of Fame (1990)
Member of the Lauderdale County Sports Hall of Fame (2000)
Member of the 50th Anniversary University of North Alabama Football Team (1949-99)
Member of the Chicago Bears Ring of Honor by Bears History.com
Member of Chicago Bears All-time Team (1920-Present) by 20Yardline.com
Named to Chicago Bears All-Time Starting Lineup by Bleacher Report
Named to 50 Greatest Bears by ESPN


Harlon Hill on All-Pro Teams in the National Football League
Year Team Level Voters
1954 2nd Team All-NFL Associated Press
1954 1st Team All-NFL NY Daily News
1954 1st Team All-NFL Sporting News
1954 1st Team All-NFL UPI
1955 1st Team All-NFL Associated Press
1955 1st Team All-NFL Newspaper Ent. Assoc.
1955 1st Team All-NFL NY Daily News
1955 1st Team All-NFL Sporting News
1955 1st Team All-NFL UPI
1956 1st Team All-NFL Associated Press
1956 1st Team All-NFL Newspaper Ent. Assoc.
1956 1st Team All-NFL NY Daily News
1956 1st Team All-NFL Sporting News
1956 1st Team All-NFL UPI



Chicago Bears Record Books . . .
* His 4,616 receiving yards is second best in Bears history
* His 40 career TD receptions is second best in Bears history
* His 19 career 100-yard receiving games still the most by any Bears receiver
* 4 receiving TDs in a game vs. San Francisco 49ers on October 31, 1954 is still tied for Bears record (with Mike Dikta).
* 214 receiving yards in a game vs. San Francisco 49ers on October 31, 1954 is still Bears record 
* Still holds Bears records for most receiving yards by a rookie (1,124) and most TD receptions by a rookie (12). 

HARLON HILL TIMELINE
1946-49
Lauderdale County High School


1950-53
Florence State Teachers College
(now University of North Alabama)
1950-53 - Four-year letterman at end
1952-53 - Team Captain 
1953 - NAIA All-American
1955 - Received his B.S. degree in Education
 
1954-61
Chicago Bears
1954 - National Football League Rookie of the Year
1955 - Winner of the first Jim Thorpe Trophy as
National Football League Most Valuable Player
1954, 55, 56 - All-Pro
1955, 56, 57 - Pro Bowl
1956 - Captian of West squad in Pro Bowl


1958
Selected to Helms Athletic Foundation Hall of Fame


1962
Pittsburgh Steelers


1962
Detroit Lions


1969
Received his Masterís degree in Education from 
University of North Alabama


1976
Selected to Alabama Sports Hall of Fame


1986
Creation of the Harlon Hill Trophy


1990
Inducted into University of North Alabama
Athletic Hall of Fame


1998
Selected for 50th Anniversary UNA Football Team


2000
Inducted into Lauderdale County Sports Hall of Fame


©Copyright 2003; All Rights Reserved
National Harlon Hill Awards Committee
Florence, AL 35361 U.S.A.