Ferris State junior quarterback Jayru Campbell was named the Harlon Hill Trophy winner Friday.
— Harlon Hill Award (@HarlonHillAward) December 14, 2018
The Harlon Hill Trophy is awarded to the individual selected as the most valuable player in NCAA Division II and is considered to be the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Campbell becomes the second Ferris State player to win the award. Fellow Bulldogs quarterback Jason Vander Laan won the twice award in 2014 and 2015.
To win the award, Jayru Campbell beat out eight other finalists including Hillsdale quarterback Chance Stewart. According to Ferris State, Campbell threw for 2,832 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 60.6% of his passes and tossing just five interceptions. He also led the Bulldogs in rushing with 1,338 yards and 20 tds. Add in his one receiving touchdown and that makes Campbell responsible for 47 total touchdowns on the season.
— Ferris State Univ. (@FerrisState) December 14, 2018
Campbell was also named first-team AP All-America earlier this week and was recognized as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference player of the year.
Campbell will be presented the Harlon Hill at a banquet in Little Rock, Ark., on Jan. 10.
Jayru Campbell will lead the 15-0 Ferris State Bulldogs against the 13-0 Valdosta State Blazers of Georgia in Saturday’s NCAA Division II Football Championship game in McKinney, Texas.
Making the most out of second chances
While the accolades have been piling up for Campbell in his first season playing at Ferris, the former Detroit Cass Tech star’s journey has been long and winding. After leading Cass Tech to back-to-back state titles as a freshman and sophomore, Campbell was arrested twice. Once for assaulting a school security guard and once for a case of domestic violence involving a girlfriend.
Following the arrests, Campbell lost his Michigan State football scholarship. After losing his chance at playing college football for a Power Five program, he found himself at Garden City Community College in Kansas.
Campbell transferred to Ferris State after winning a national championship at Garden City, where he played receiver, in 2016. Campbell sat out the entire 2017 season with a redshirt so he could focus on himself and make the most out of the second chance opportunity.
When asked why he gave Campbell a second chance, Ferris State head coach Tony Annese had the following to say:
“I was a high school teacher for 25 years. I had to give people second chances every day. That’s what an education does. I hope all coaches out there are willing to work with young people to bring out the best that’s in them — focus on the positive traits they may have, not the negative experience they had.”
While he still has doubters, there is no denying that so far Campbell has made the most out of his second chance.