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CV grad Gardner nominated for NCAA Division-II College Football Player of the Year
JaQuan Gardner - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Central Valley High School grad Ja'Quan Gardner has been nominated for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the NCAA Division-II College Football Player of the Year Award, for the second time in three seasons.

The winner will be announced on Dec. 15 and honored on the University of North Alabama Campus at a luncheon on Jan. 5.

"It wasn't a goal," said Ja'Quan, who finished second in voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy in 2015. "I have to thank everybody on my team. We wanted success for each other."

Gardner will be remembered as one of Humboldt State's all-time greatest players.

He was voted Great Northwest Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in four seasons on Nov. 15.

Ja'Quan ranked first in the conference in rushing yards (1,259) and rushing touchdowns (19).

He averaged 125.9 yards per game and 6.2 yards per attempt.

Gardner became the GNAC's all-time leader in touchdowns scored (75), points scored (450), all-purpose yards (6,979), all-purpose yards per game (170.2), rushing attempts (878), rushing yards (5,426) and rushing touchdowns (70).

Ja'Quan set GNAC single-game marks with 446 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns, and tied another league record with five rushing TDs during Humboldt State's 52-49 Homecoming win over Azusa Pacific.

Gardner's performance earned him GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for a record-tying ninth time.

"I definitely wish I did more to help the team so we could keep playing,"Ja'Quan said.

The Lumberjacks compiled an 8-2 overall record and finished in second place in the GNAC standings (6-2) this fall.

Humboldt State's two losses were to unbeaten Central Washington (11-0, 8-0).

The Wildcats dashed the Lumberjacks' GNAC title hopes.

The Lumberjacks enjoyed a success-filled 2017 campaign despite competing under a cloud of uncertainty.

Humboldt State might have to cut football due to a lack of funding.

"It's still up in the air," Gardner said. "We played with that on our minds all season. We could have folded. I'm really proud of how my team responded. We just focused on getting better every week."