WESTERN MICHIGAN’S TIM HILLER NAMED 2009 WUERFFEL TROPHY WINNER
FORT WALTON BEACH — When Tim Hiller was growing up, his dad would circle items in the newspaper about football players who possessed admirable qualities both in the huddle and outside of it and present the articles to his son for consumption.
So it comes as no surprise that the Western Michigan quarterback became familiar with Danny Wuerffel from about the time he began to read.
“I remember (my dad) on numerous occasions highlighting things that Mr. Wuerffel did throughout his career and pointing those things out to me as things that he would want me to exemplify,” Hiller said.
Hiller did indeed grow up to exemplify those things.
During a conference call on Monday, the Fort Walton Beach-based All Sports Association, Inc., announced to Hiller that he’s the 2009 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy, which is presented annually to the Football Bowl Subdivision player that best combines exemplary community service with academic and athletic achievement.
The man who the award is named after broke the news.
“We’re really encouraged and proud of you for everything you’ve done on the field, everything you’ve done in the classroom and, as in this case, as importantly if not more importantly, everything you’ve done to help other people,” said Wuerffel, who starred at Fort Walton Beach High before leading Florida to the 1996 national title and earning the Heisman Trophy.
Hiller was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy last year, when the award went to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. The Orrville, Ohio, native becomes the fifth winner of the prestigious award and the third quarterback in a row following Tulsa’s Paul Smith and Tebow.
“It’s a tremendous honor because of what the award stands for, not only academic and athletic achievement but also community service and faith-based outreach opportunities — just all the things my family instilled in me and things I know are important and part of my values,” Hiller said.
Smith participated in the conference call and lauded Hiller for his accomplishments.
“I read through your profile, saw a lot of similarities to myself and Danny and what this award is all about,” he said.
On and off the field, Hiller set new standards for excellence within the Western Michigan football program. The senior signal-caller is the Broncos’ career leader in passing yards, touchdown passes, completions and total offense. This season he earned second-team All-Mid-American Conference honors after throwing for 3,249 yards and 23 touchdowns.
“This kid is really something special, and when you meet the kid you’ll understand why,” Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit said.
In the class room, Hiller maintained a perfect 4.0 grade-point average throughout college. And along with a slew of other community-service activities, he joined 23 other college students on a faith-based mission to Trinidad where, among other things, he visited youth prisons and drug clinics and witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of poverty on a nation.
“Here in these economic times we’re going through, we take a lot of things for granted and we think we have it rough,” Hiller said. “But the reality is a bad day here looks pretty good down there. I was further opened to that through the experience.”
The Wuerffel Trophy will be presented to Hiller on Feb. 19 at the All Sports Association’s 41st Annual Awards Dinner in Fort Walton Beach.
“We had the largest (nomination) class we’ve ever had,” All Sports President Robert McEachern said, “and for (Hiller) to rise to the top of that elite group is exciting for him and it’s great for us to be able to meet someone of that caliber (and honor him) for his hard work and all he’s meant to his teams and his community.”
For more information, contact Tom Brassell at (850 585-5512 or visit http://www.wuerffeltrophy.org