FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — Harlon Hill, the former star receiver for the Chicago Bears whose name adorns the NCAA Division II player of the year trophy, has died. He was 80.
Jeff Hodges, chairman of the National Harlon Hill Award Committee, says Hill died Thursday at Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence after a lengthy illness.
Hill, who attended North Alabama, was the NFL rookie of the year in 1954 after being drafted in the 15th round by the Bears, and became the first winner of the Jim Thorpe Trophy as the NFL’s most valuable player in 1955. In nine seasons with the Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions, he had 233 receptions for 4,717 yards and 40 touchdowns. He averaged 20.2 yards per catch.
The Harlon Hill Trophy has been presented in Florence for the past 27 years on the eve of the Division II championship game.
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