University of West Georgia standout Devontae Jackson was among 10 players selected as a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy on Wednesday, marking the first time in program history that a football player at UWG has been tabbed to the final round of balloting for the Division II Football Player of the Year.
Jackson, a junior running back and kick return specialist who prepped at Wheeler High School in Marietta, advances to the final ballot from a field of 34 initial nominees. The finalists were selected by NCAA Division II sports information directors in regional voting and are now on the national ballot, where all 169 of the division’s SIDs will select the 32nd recipient of the award.
Jackson finished the 2017 season with impressive numbers in helping lead the Wolves to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
He rushed for 1,175 yards on the campaign, becoming the third back in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season twice in a career. He also had 18 pass receptions for 217 yards and returned 14 kickoffs for 373 yards, including a 100-yard touchdown return against West Alabama. His all-purpose yardage of 1,765 led the Gulf South Conference by more than 25 yards per game.
These numbers have helped Jackson make an assault on the UWG record book. He already holds the school-record for career kickoff return average. Jackson also ranks second in career all-purpose yards with 4,506, and he is fifth on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,719 yards.
Beyond being UWG’s first Harlon Hill Trophy finalist, he is only the fourth West Georgia player ever to be a regional candidate for the honor. Quarterbacks Chris Teal (1992) and Jeremy Clements (1998) earned the honor, as did running back Nick Price in 2001.
Earlier this month Jackson headed the UWG contingent on the All-GSC Team, being named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year. It marks his third straight All-GSC honor, having claimed a berth as an all-purpose back following the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
National voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy will conclude on Dec. 9 and the winner of the 2017 award, presented by the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, will be announced on Friday, Dec. 15. The winner will be honored at a luncheon in Florence, Alabama, on Jan. 5, 2018.