April 15, 2012

MVP Profile: Harlon Hill, 1955

Offensive End, Chicago Bears



Age:  23
2nd season in pro football & with Bears
College: Florence State
Height: 6’3”    Weight: 200

Prelude:
An obscure player from a small college, Hill was chosen by the Bears in the 15th round of the 1954 NFL draft. He quickly became a star, catching 45 passes for 1124 yards (a league-leading 25.0 avg. gain) and 12 TDs. He received first-team All-Pro recognition from the UPI, New York Daily News, and Sporting News and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

1955 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 42 [7, tied with Ray Mathews]     
Yards – 789 [3]
Average gain – 18.8 [4]
TDs – 9 [1]

Scoring
TDs – 9 [1, tied with Alan Ameche]
Points – 54 [10, tied with Alan Ameche]

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: NEA
1st team All-NFL: AP, NEA, UPI, NY Daily News, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Bears went 8-4 to finish second in the Western Conference, a half game behind the 8-3-1 Lions, and led the NFL in total yards (4316) and rushing yards (2388) while placing second in scoring (294 points) and touchdowns (37).

Aftermath:
Hill had another big year in 1956 as the Bears won the Western Conference, catching 47 passes for 1128 yards (24.0 avg.) and 11 touchdowns, and was again a consensus first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. With his speed combined with outstanding faking ability, he regularly drew double and triple coverage. However, major injuries limited his performance in 1957 and ’58 as he pulled in a combined 48 receptions for 848 yards (17.7 avg.) and 5 TDs. Hill bounced back with a 36-catch, 578-yard performance in 1959, but caught just 15 more passes over the last three years of his career that ended with stops in Detroit and Pittsburgh in 1962. Overall, he had 233 pass receptions for 4717 yards (20.2 avg.) and 40 TDs, but the bulk of his accomplishments came in his first three seasons.

--

MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/9/14]