NCAA FOOTBALL: SMSU running back Tonderum a finalist for Harlon Hill Award

FLORENCE, Ala. – Southwest Minnesota State University junior running back Tyler Tonderum has been selected as one of 28 finalists for the Harlon Hill Award, which is given annually to the top player in Division II football.

The National Harlon Hill Award Committee announced the list of candidates Thursday morning. The list includes seven players from each of the four Division II Super Regions.

Tonderum, a 5-foot-10, 191-pound junior from Armstrong, Iowa, is the first SMSU player in program history to be named a Harlon Hill regional finalist.

Sauter described Tonderum as a quiet, humble person who works hard during practice.

Players are nominated and voted on by the sports information directors at the 168 NCAA Division II football-playing institutions. The 28 initial candidates will be placed on regional ballots and the top two players from each of the four NCAA regions will advance to the national ballot when regional voting concludes Friday.

Tonderum enters the final week of the regular season ranked first in all of levels of NCAA with 1,864 yards rushing on 284 attempts with 18 touchdowns. He has also caught 30 passes for 258 yards and one touchdown. In this week’s Division II statistics, Tonderum ranks first in rushing yards, third in all-purpose yards (217.2), sixth in rushing touchdowns and seventh in scoring (11.4).

Tonderum has rushed for more than 100 yards in eight of 10 games and has rushed for more than 200 yards four times, including a school record 343 yards. He has already set the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference single-season rushing record and has set seven school single-season records and two single-game school records.

“Tyler is a guy who just keeps plugging away and keeps getting better,” Mustangs head coach Cory Sauter said. “Some people from the outside, heading into this season, had some questions whether or not Tyler could be our featured running back without any college starts. We knew that he was going to be a solid running back, but we didn’t know he could be this productive.”

Tonderum has helped SMSU to a 6-4 record, including securing the team’s first winning season since 2008 and just the ninth in the program’s 46-year history. SMSU is currently in fourth place in the 16-team NSIC and will close the regular season today at Augustana in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The sports information directors at their respective schools initially nominated candidates and those nominations were then reviewed by the Hill Regional Advisory Committees, which trimmed the list of candidates.

The group of 28 candidates includes 17 quarterbacks, seven running backs, three receivers and a linebacker. There are 20 seniors, five juniors and three sophomores.

The National Harlon Hill Award Committee will announce the winner at the 25th annual Harlon Hill Trophy Presentation Banquet on Friday, Dec. 17, in Florence.

For more information on the award go to