Ferris State's Jayru Campbell, Hillsdale's Chance Stewart up for Harlon Hill Trophy

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Jayru Campbell, of Ferris State, is one of nine finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy.

Ferris State quarterback Jayru Campbell, the former Detroit Cass Tech standout who took a long, winding road to his success in Big Rapids, is a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is considered the Heisman of Division II.

Also a finalist is Hillsdale senior quarterback Chance Stewart.

The announcement was made this week.

Campbell and Stewart are two of nine candidates for the award, which is named after the late North Alabama standout who went on to play in the NFL, including with the Detroit Lions.

Campbell is trying to become the second Ferris State player to win the award; quarterback Jason Vander Laan was a two-time winner, in 2014 and 2015. The only other players from a Michigan school to win the award were Grand Valley State quarterback Curt Anes, in 2002, and Wayne State running back Joique Bell, in 2009.

Campbell, in his first year playing at Ferris State, started quick and never looked back, rolling to Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference offensive player-of-the-year honors after racking up 2,453 yards and 23 touchdowns passing (to just five interceptions) and 1,188 yards and 20 touchdowns rushing.

He led Ferris State to a 12-0 start, including a win in the playoff opener, before missing last week's game with a sprained left (non-throwing) shoulder.

Ferris State won that game against Northwest Missouri State to advance to Saturday's Division II quarterfinal at Ouachita Baptist (12-0) in Arkansas. Coach Tony Annese told The News earlier this week he is hopeful that Campbell will play, but that it could come down to a game-time decision.

Last week, the Bulldogs employed three quarterbacks to beat Northwest Missouri State.

Campbell starred at Cass Tech, leading the team to back-to-back state championships and earning a scholarship offer from Michigan State. But off-the-field issues led to legal trouble, and he ended up at Garden City Community College in Kansas. There, he won a national championship, before transferring to Ferris State.

He sat out last season, before taking the reins this season.

Hillsdale's Stewart, from Sturgis, led his team to a 10-3 record and into the second round of the Division II playoffs. He played all 13 games, throwing for 3,588 yards and 28 touchdowns (to eight interceptions), and also rushed for three more touchdowns.

The rest of the nine Harlon Hill candidates, down from 37 players nominated earlier this month, are: Notre Dame (Ohio) freshman running back Jaleel McLaughlin, Bowie State senior quarterback Amir Hall, Valdosta State sophomore quarterback Rogan Wells, Emporia State senior quarterback Braxton Marstall, Southern Arkansas senior receiver Ka'Ronce Higgins, Angelo State senior defensive end Markus Jones and Sioux Falls junior running back Gabriel Watson.

The winner will be announced Dec. 14, and honored in a banquet Jan. 10.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984