Tennessee State senior receiver Chris Rowland had one of the most dynamic 2019 seasons in college football.

On Saturday, he was rewarded for it, earning the Deacon Jones Trophy after winning the 2019 Black College Football Player of the Year award in Atlanta, Georgia. The announcement was made during the 2020 Black College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The award recognizes the most outstanding football player from a historically black college and university (HBUS) that embodies athletic excellence and integrity associated with HBCUs and is voted on by a committee composed of James Harris and Doug Williams, the co-founders of the Black College Football Hall of Fame, Power News Radio’s Ty Miller and ESPN college football analyst Jay Walker.

“My family supports me through the things football has taught me, on and off the field.” Rowland said.  “To my parents and my brothers, you guys are my pride, my support, my rock. I thank you all for what you’ve done for me growing up and encouraging me.

“(To my coaches) you put me in a great position to be successful, and for that, I thank you. I’ll forever cherish the teachings and patience you put in me. I’ll continue to work hard and add my undying passion for this game I love… I’m very humbled and grateful for all my blessings in life and I’m truly honored to be your Deacon Jones Trophy award winner.”

Rowland, a Nolesnville native and Ravenwood High School alum, was also a finalist for the Walter Payton award, given to the top FCS offensive player, and was invited to play in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl.

He was named the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year and was a first team All-OVC selection as a receiver and kick returner. He led the OVC in receptions (104), yards (1,437) and all-purpose yards (2,110). He was the only NCAA Division I player to score a rushing, receiving, kick and punt return touchdown.

He set a new HBCU record with 104 receptions in 2019, besting NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s previous record of 103 receptions in 1984.

“Chris had one of the most prolific seasons as a wide receiver in HBCU history,” Harris said of Rowland. “He is a great testament to the talent Black College Football and wish him well in the next chapter of his football career.”

This post originally appeared in our sister publication, the Nashville Post. 

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