Harlon Hill was born in Alabama and attended Lauderdale County High School in Rogersville, Alabama. He enrolled at Florence State Teachers College, which is now called the University of North Alabama. In college he played wide receiver. Hill was such an outstanding player in college, that they NCAA named an award after him called The Harlon Hill Trophy that is given to the individual selected as the most valuable player in NCAA Division II. It is comparable to the Heisman only for smaller schools.
Hill was an excellent recruit that George Halas heard about through his football grapevine of unofficial scouts and Bears alums. He was a 15th round draft pick of the Bears in 1954. Good players could get lost in anonymity at small schools like Florence Teachers College.
Hill played for the Bears from 1954-1961. He was remarkably big for his position at the time, 6-foot-3 and about 200 pounds. He was also fast. A country boy who was a touchdown machine, his average reception for his career was 20.2 yards per catch. Halas said that “he had an uncanny knack for pulling down impossible passes.”* He started right away for Halas and the Bears. Hill was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1954 and the winner of the Jim Thorpe Memorial Trophy (MVP) in 1955. The boy from Alabama was the Bears long-ball threat. For the Bears in his 8-year career, he had 226 yards for 4,616 yards and for his career he had 233 receptions for 4,717 yards. Hill had 40 receiving touchdowns for the Bears.
Hill was a two-time All Pro and he was invited to three Pro Bowls. In 1961, he tried to extend his career and played defensive back for the Bears. In 1962, he was on the Lions and the Steelers rosters, but played sparingly and did not score any more touchdowns. Hill was named one of the Top 100 Bears of All Time.
After his pro career, Hill became a high school teacher and coach.
*Halas by Halas,” page 229.
Copyright 2021, Sporting Chance Press
More on the Chicago Bears. Here at the other Chicago Bears bios that we have released for the month of September thus far:
Two of our books.
We have published several books that cover some material on the Chicago Bears. One of our recent books is called PAPA BEAR AND THE CHICAGO BEARS’ WINNING WAYS reviews the exciting story of George Halas and his dynamic role in professional football for those in middle school and older. Author: Patrick McCaskey. Visit Amazon, Great offer today on this great educational and sports resource for middle grades students!
Our most ambitious book on sports is a 2014 effort called PILLARS OF THE NFL. This book is a real collector’s book on the 10 greatest coaches in NFL history. It includes stats as well as stories and more. Visit Amazon, this one is also offered at a great price today.