Ex-Kentucky QB Bonner named to Division II Hall of Fame

Kentucky quarterback Dusty Bonner pumped his fist after the Cats denied Vanderbilt a bowl berth in 1999.
Kentucky quarterback Dusty Bonner pumped his fist after the Cats denied Vanderbilt a bowl berth in 1999. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former University of Kentucky quarterback Dusty Bonner has been elected to the NCAA Division II Football Hall of Fame.

Bonner, who played at UK in 1998 and 1999, transferred to Valdosta (Ga.) State, where he won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the player of the year in Division II in 2000 and 2001.

Bonner is part of a Hall of Fame Class of 2013 that also includes Keith McKeller of Jacksonville State and retired coach Frank Cignetti of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The class will be inducted during the Division II Football Hall of Fame Banquet on Dec. 20 in Florence, Ala.

Established in 1999, the Division II Hall of Fame inducted former players annually from 1999-2009 before inducting its first class of coaches in 2010. This year's inductees bring the total number of players inducted to 31 and the total number of coaches to five.

Bonner, a native of Valdosta, lives in Lexington and is employed as a medical device sales representative.

Bonner completed 649 of 913 pass attempts and threw for 8,163 yards during his two years at Valdosta. He tossed 107 touchdown passes with just 22 interceptions, while leading Valdosta State to playoff appearances during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Bonner holds the VSU record for passing yards in a game, touchdowns thrown for 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.

Bonner, Johnny Bailey and Danny Woodhead are the only players to have won the Hill Trophy more than once in the award's 27-year history.

Before transferring to Valdosta State, Bonner served as backup to Tim Couch in 1998 and was the Wildcats' starting quarterback in 1999. In 1999, he led the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency, total offense and passing yards per game and led Kentucky to the Music City Bowl. He transferred to Valdosta when Jared Lorenzen was named Kentucky's starting quarterback the following summer.

After his senior season at VSU Bonner signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons and later played three seasons with the Lexington Horsemen indoor football team. In 2004, he led the Horsemen to the league championship, throwing for 2,695 yards and a league-record 72 touchdowns.

Cignetti is the winningest head coach in Indiana University of Pennsylvania history and led the Hawks to unprecedented success during his 20-year tenure from 1986 to 2005.

McKeller, a Fairfield, Ala., native, was a two-sport standout at Jacksonville State, starring in football and basketball in the 1980s.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader