Wingo among Harlon Hill trophy finalists

UNA quarterback Luke Wingo scrambles out of the pocket against Florida Tech Sept. 26. Wingo and seven other players are national finalists for the Harlon Hill trophy, presented to the nation’s best player in Division II.

by Sports Editor Mike Ezekiel

UNA quarterback Luke Wingo finds himself in the midst of another accolade for stellar senior season.

Wingo is one of eight finalists for the Harlon Hill trophy, presented to Division II’s best player for that season. The senior finished the season with a 162.8 quarterback rating, along with 3,203 passing yards and 25 touchdowns.

“It feels great to be a finalist,” Wingo said. “I’m glad to be able to represent UNA and all the guys on our team. I don’t know if I’ll win, but it’s been a cool experience no matter what.”

Wingo will look to join former linebacker Ronald McKinnon (1995) and former quarterback Will Hall (2003) as the third Lion to receive the award.

“It’s an honor to be mentioned with those guys,” Wingo said. “They both had unbelievable careers here and did a lot for this university.”

UNA offensive coordinator Cody Gross, who had a stellar career as UNA’s quarterback on the 1993-95 national championship teams, said it means more to the coach seeing Wingo pass him in the record books than it did for Gross to make it himself.

“’I’m glad to see Luke is finally getting some recognition for what he’s done,” Gross said. “He’s a team guy more than a stat guy. Seeing him pass me in some career stats is awesome.

“Being a coach is almost like being a dad. You want to see your kids be better than you were and you want your players to be better. You take more pride in that.”

The voting for the award concludes Dec. 12, as the NCAA will announce and present the winner with the trophy Dec. 18 on UNA’s campus.

Other finalists for the award include last year’s winner, quarterback Jason Vander Laan from Ferris State University, along with running backs Damian Baker from Carson-Newman College, Ja’Quan Gardner from Humboldt State University and Camerson McDondle from Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Other quarterbacks nominated include Matt Soltes from East Stroudsburg University, Brent Wilson from Emporia State University and Jeff Ziemba from Shepherd University.