Tucker named Harlon Hill Trophy finalist

Senior quarterback Jacob Tucker ready to pass in North Alabama’s homecoming game against Shorter Oct. 15. Tucker was one of 10 student-athletes named as a Harlon Hill Trophy finalist from Super Region 2.

by Managing Editor Mike Ezekiel

For the second year in a row, a North Alabama quarterback is a Harlon Hill Trophy nominee.

Senior Jacob Tucker, who took the helm as the team’s starting quarterback this season, followed in Luke Wingo’s footsteps by receiving his first career nomination for the award Nov. 21.

Tucker, a Linden, Tennessee, native who is a fifth-year player, joins four other nominees from the Gulf South Conference and is one of 10 candidates from Super Region 2.

The Harlon Hill award, named after a former UNA standout, is the Division II equivalent of the Heisman award, which goes to the most outstanding player in the country as voted by the nation’s sports information directors.

Tucker is deserving of the individual honor, said UNA head coach Bobby Wallace in a press release.

“Jacob has had a great year, and I’m happy to see a player who has been so unselfish for the last four years have a chance to get the recognition he deserves,” Wallace said. “He is a great leader, a great athlete and a great competitor. He has remarkable numbers for the shortened amount of time that he has played this season due to some big leads.”

Tucker said just to receive a nomination is a dream come true.

“It’s really cool, man,” Tucker said. “When the results came out, I was pretty pumped. It’s a honor just to have my name put in the pot with those group of guys for a prestigious award.”

Tucker is the reigning GSC Offensive Player of the Year and has led the Lions to an 8-1 record and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Tucker has 1,973 passing yards and is second in the conference in total offense (293.2).

Tucker has proven his dual-threat ability with 1,973 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns, while rushing for 666 yards and 12 touchdowns. These numbers are despite missing the fourth quarter in six of eight games due to large leads.

“If the receivers don’t make the plays, if the line doesn’t block like they have all year and if the defense doesn’t put us in a position to score, then my stats aren’t near as good as they are,” Tucker said. “I’m happy to get it, but I’m also proud because it says a lot about the team.”

In his career, Tucker is UNA’s second-leading career rushing quarterback with 1,645 career-rushing yards, despite only starting for one season. Former offensive coordinator Cody Gross holds the record with 1,930.

So far, Tucker has accounted for 52 total touchdowns in his career, with 29 rushing touchdowns and 23 passing. He also has 4,412 total yards. With Tucker as the starter, UNA is 9-1 overall and 9-0 against Division II opponents.

The National Harlon Hill Award Committee will announce the winner Dec. 16. The winner will receive the trophy at a luncheon on UNA’s campus Jan. 6, 2017.