FLORENCE, Ala. - Former Valdosta State great Dusty Bonner became the third Blazer to enter the Division II Football Hall of Fame as he was enshrined during the 28th Annual Harlon Hill Trophy and Division II Football Hall of Fame Induction Banquet Friday evening.
Bonner enjoyed a stellar career in his two years at Valdosta State, during which he earned both the 2000 and 2001 Harlon Hill Trophies as the top Division II player in the nation. The back-to-back Harlon Hill Trophies made Bonner just one of three players in the 28-year history of the award to win the honor more than once.
As a junior, he passed for 4,126 yards and 55 touchdowns while completing 71.9 percent of his passes. He led the nation in total offense, touchdown passes, passing yards and pass completions while leading VSU to a 10-2 record. He was a three-time Gulf South Conference Player of the Week and three-time Division II National Player of the Week and went on to earn first-team All-GSC and GSC Co-Offensive Player of the Year before also becoming a consensus All-American.
As a senior, Bonner threw for 4,037 yards and 52 touchdowns while leading VSU to a perfect 11-0 regular season and the first No. 1 ranking in school history. He was the GSC Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and accounted for eight touchdowns in a game against Delta State, throwing for six and running for two more scores. He was named All-American by Daktronics, D2Football.com and Don Hansen at the conclusion of the season.
In his two seasons at Valdosta State, Bonner completed 649-of-913 pass and threw for 8,163 yards. He tossed 107 touchdowns against just 22 interceptions and led VSU to playoff appearances both years. He currently holds the Blazer record for passing yards in a game, touchdowns thrown in a game, total offense in a game, touchdowns responsible for in a game, yards per game in a season, total offense in a season and touchdowns responsible for in a season. He is third overall in career passing yards and second in both career touchdowns and total offense.
Prior to Valdosta State, Bonner spent two seasons at the University of Kentucky, where he served as the back-up to NFL No. 1 draft pick Tim Couch in 1998 and was the Wildcats starting quarterback in 1999. During the 1999 season, he led the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency, total offense and passing yards per game.
After completing his collegiate career, Bonner signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons and played three seasons with the Lexington Horsemen of the Indoor Football League. In 2003, he was the North Atlantic Conference Most Valuable Player after throwing for 2,833 yards and 63 touchdowns. In 2004, he led the Horsemen to the league championship while throwing for 2,695 yards and a league-record 72 touchdowns.
After his playing career, Bonner served as the General Manager of the Horsemen and now resides in Lexington, Ky. and is employed as a medical device sales representative.
Bonner's induction into the Division II Football Hall of Fame marks the third time a Blazer has received the honor. Former linebacker Jessie Tuggle was inducted as a member of the Class of 2002 while quarterback Chris Hatcher joined the Hall of Fame in 2005.