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Lions' Perez Wins Harlon Hill Trophy

Luis Perez while with the 2017 Lions, that season's NCAA Division II national champions.
Lion Athletics
Luis Perez

Texas A&M University-Commerce senior quarterback Luis Perez of Chula Vista, Calif., has claimed the 2017 Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II College Football Player of the Year. 

Perez received 198 total points and held a commanding 63-point margin over Gannon junior running back Marc Jones at 135. Slippery Rock senior defensive lineman Marcus Martin finished third at 96, marking the highest finish by a defensive lineman in the award's 32-year history.

The award winner is determined in voting by the Division II sports information directors. Perez, who has led A&M-Commerce to a 13-1 record and into Saturday's NCAA Division II National Championship Game, was on 85 of the 106 total ballots cast. He will be just the seventh Hill winner to also play in the Division II National Championship Game in the same season that he won the award.

Five of the previous Hill winners, Jeff Bentrim of North Dakota State (1986), Chris Simdorn of North Dakota State (1990), Ronnie West of Pittsburg State (1991), Ronald McKinnon of North Alabama (1995) and Curt Anes of Grand Valley State (2002) also led their teams to the national championship the day after winning the Hill Trophy. Pittsburg State's Ronald Moore (1992) is the only Hill winner to play on the losing team in the championship game.

The Hill Trophy will be presented to Perez on Friday, January 5, 2018 at a ceremony on the campus of the University of North Alabama, Hill's alma mater. The Harlon Hill Trophy is sponsored by Herff Jones, the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa and the University of North Alabama. .

Perez has thrown for 4,678 yards and 44 touchdowns this season, while completing better than 70 percent of his pass attempts. He has completed 398 of 566 passes leads Division II in total passing yards (4,678), passing yards per game (334.0) and passing touchdowns (44). He is ranked third in points responsible for (272), sixth in points responsible for per game (19.4), sixth in total offense (329.2) and tenth in passing efficiency (161.8).

He has been named a first team All-American by the Associated Press and the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association, second team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association, and D2CCA Ron Lenz Offensive Player of the Year. He won the J.W. Rollins Award as the Lone Star Conference's Offensive Player of the Year and is a two-time first team all-LSC quarterback. He was also named first team all-region and regional offensive player of the year.

Perez is the first quarterback at A&M-Commerce since 1980 (Wade Wilson) to be named a First Team All-American and the first to receive multiple First Team All-America awards in the same season since Sam McCord in 1958.

Perez has thrown at least four touchdown passes seven times this season and went 269 pass attempts without an interception. He is NCAA Division II's active passing leader at 8,002 yards over the past two seasons with 76 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The Chula Vista, Calif., native is the reigning J.W. Rollins Lone Star Conference Offensive Player of the Year and posted 10 consecutive 300-yard passing games this season including a campaign-best 482-yard effort against Tarleton State.

Perez is the Lone Star Conference's fifth all-time winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy. A&M-Kingsville running back Johnny Bailey won three consecutive Hill Trophies from 1987-89 and Abilene Christian running back Bernard Scott won the Trophy in 2008.

Following Perez, Jones and Martin in the voting were senior quarterback Connor Jessop of Shepherd (61), junior quarterback Amir Hall of Bowie State (50), senior receiver J.T. Luper of Central Oklahoma (39), senior running back Ja'Quan Gardner of Humboldt State (24), junior quarterback Brook Bolles of Central Missouri (14),  junior running back Devontae Jackson of West Georgia (12), and junior quarterback Harry Satterwhite of West Alabama (7).

The Hill Trophy is named for a former University of North Alabama player - the late Harlon Hill - who was a standout with the Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears.