A field of 43 initial nominees has been trimmed to nine national finalists in regional voting for the 2016 Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II College Football Player of the Year and Grand Valley State sophomore running back Marty Carter (East Chicago, Ind.) was named a finalist.
The finalists were selected by the NCAA Division II sports information directors in regional voting and will now be placed on the national ballot where all 171 of the division's SIDs will select the award's 31st winner. The top two players from three super regions advanced to the national ballot, and three advanced from Super Region 4 due to a tie in the voting.
The list of 2016 finalists is comprised of six quarterbacks, two running backs and one receiver. Seven of the finalists helped lead their teams into the 2016 NCAA Division II playoffs and five are on team's competing in this weekend's quarterfinal matchups.
Carter, who was named the 2016 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Back of the Year, leads the nation in rushing with 1,807 yards and 19 touchdowns on 238 carries. His 1,807 rushing yards is the top regular season rushing mark in GVSU football history, while the 1,486 rushing yards in GLIAC action ranks seventh all-time in league history. The East Chicago, Ill., native is averaging 7.6 yards per carry, a mark that ranks second nationally and first among all running backs with 200 or more carries. Carter also led the GLIAC in all-purpose yards with 1,884 yards. Marty tallied seven runs of 53 yards or more, six of which went for touchdowns and he had 20 rushing plays of 20 yards or more in 12 games. Carter broke the 100-yard rushing mark nine times, including a GVSU single-season record four games of 200 yards or more. He set the Grand Valley State single-game rushing record with 298 yards vs. Northern Michigan and was named the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week three times. Carter led the GLIAC and ranks fifth nationally in rushing TDs with 19, while ranking first in the GLIAC and 11th nationally in total points.
Carter is the latest in a long line of Lakers that have been named a finalist for the Harlon Hill Award, but the first GVSU running back since Eric Lynch in 1990. QB Curt Anes won the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2002 by a landslide amount after garnering the most first-place votes in 2001 only to finish second. QB Cullen Finnerty finished second in 2006, while QB Brad Iciek was a three-time finalist (2007-09). QB Jeff Fox finished third in 1998 and Lynch was a finalist in 1989 and 1990.