Rowlands

Seth and Chris Rowland

While most of us are catching up on sleep and plowing through Netflix binges as quarantine drags on, Ravenwood alums Seth and Chris Rowland are working on making lifelong dreams come true. 

The brothers are trying to forge a path into the NFL, with the league's annual draft just around the corner next weekend. 

Both players have a chance to make a 90-man roster here soon, with Chris a highly-decorated wide receiver with nearly 1,500 yards last season and return specialist for Tennessee State University and Seth a running back for the Tigers who averaged 5.7 yards a carry. 

"The pre-draft process has gone well, there’s been many ups and downs but it’s been a fun process," Chris Rowland said, "and I am chomping at the bit for the draft to come." 

"The pre-draft process was a humbling experience for me, my faith was tested," Seth Rowland said. "And I would like to believe that I took advantage of every opportunity and situation thrown at me during the training process." 

Both players were together at Ravenwood on its 2015 state championship team under Will Hester, with Seth taking an extra year at Georgia Preparatory Sports Academy after his graduation in '15 and eventually joining his younger brother Chris at TSU in fall of 2016. 

The Rowlands have been training and doing their best to coordinate with NFL teams through this unprecedented process. NFL teams aren't able to conduct private workouts or attend Pro Days, which would've been key ways the Rowlands could've impressed league scouts, coaches and general managers. 

TSU wasn't able to hold its own Pro Day this spring with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But the Rowlands are still working to get on the radar of pro teams who might be interested in bringing them in. 

Chris Rowland, the 2019-20 Black College Football Hall of Fame Player of the Year and the OVC's 2019-20 Player of the Year, says he's had conversations with a handful of NFL teams about the possibility of being selected. 

"A couple teams here and there have shown interest that I have spoken with and and could possibly call my name on draft day," Chris Rowland said. 

He'd be a very probable undrafted free agent target or minicamp invitee (should rookie minicamps be held as they normally are), if not selected in the draft's sixth or seventh rounds. 

As for Seth, he's relying on his game tape to get team's attention. 

"The process for me talking to any professional team has been a bit silent," Seth Rowland said. "I’ve heard that teams have seen my film, and seemed pretty interested in me, but due to the fact that my time on the field was pretty limited, most scouts just wanted to see me do a Pro Day and go from there since I didn’t get the chance to really show everything I can do.

"I ran a 4.53 in the 40. I went from a 4.86 to a 4.53 in four months from training at Boost Sports Performance pre-draft class. I believe that this silence means something big is about to happen for me so I have to stay optimistic about the situation and remain silent and believe that my name is being talked about right now." 

Both players, now, can be training on their own and speak with NFL teams via virtual conversation. Some athletes have even sent workout videos to teams interested. 

The coronavirus has made the process harder for all trying to get the attention of NFL teams. 

"I’ve been training the best way I can through [the COVID-19 pandemic]," Chris Rowland. "I’ve been training in and out of a garage at my trainer's place, we have weights set up and [I'm] just finding work the best way I can." 

"So, again I feel like my faith is being tested by all of what’s going on in the world right now," Seth Rowland said. "You either can get down on yourself and sink while letting this take over you, or you can swim. I train in my dad's barn lifting weights that he has so it’s pretty beneficial for the meantime.

"Field work, I train with Dexter McCluster at local fields, and [have been] working with Riley Howard as well. I lost a close coach, Tarvaris Jackson in a car accident [Monday] and that took a huge toll on me. The tragedy that happened with him makes me open my eyes more and go even harder because tomorrow is never promised." 

Jackson, a former NFL quarterback and TSU quarterbacks coach, died earlier this week in a car accident in Alabama. 

"Thankful for your leadership, commitment, and knowledge to help grow my game physically and mentally," Chris Rowland shared on social media about his former coach. "Forever grateful." 

Rowland also shared that Jackson told him, "Chris I have no doubt that you will make an NFL roster."

Those words "have stuck with me ever since," Chris Rowland shared on Twitter.

It's possible the hometown Tennessee Titans could bring in either Rowland. Both players would be highly interested in that possibility. After all, Nissan Stadium is where the TSU Tigers play their home games. 

"If I could stay in town and play for the Titans, that would be dope," Seth Rowland said.  "I think I could make Derrick Henry’s job a lot more easier because when he needs a breather I could come in there and make the same yards that he’s making.

"I tried to talk to Derrick Henry after one of his big games in the parking lot, and I told him I’ll be in the NFL next season but he didn’t seem to really believe me. I am that confident in my ability...I’ve been rooting for them since forever." 

"It would mean a lot," Chris Rowland said. "Being able to stay home for your college career and potentially your professional career, would be a dream come true."

Ravenwood is a big part of the Rowlands' story, and both players say their time as Raptors helped them be able to pursue a pro career. 

"My time at Ravenwood truly prepared me for this moment," Seth Rowland said. "School in Williamson County is no joke so I had trouble studying, learning and passing my classes, so I desperately fell below the GPA to attend any University. I didn’t go straight to college after high school, I was sent to a preparatory school in Atlanta where I was basically reborn and given a second chance to do what I love.

"There were hardly any fans in the stands, and coming from Ravenwood the games were packed out with a band, so I had literally nothing, I had to lose it all to get it all back. I learned how to cope with my fears and fight for what I truly love." 

Ravenwood's coaching was key to Chris. 

"Playing at Ravenwood helped prepare me for college and the play call style was similar so the transition was smooth," Chris Rowland said. 

A former teammate, Van Jefferson, is expected to be drafted in the mid-rounds. Both Rowlands have nothing but positive wishes for their old friend. 

"It’s awesome...Van is my original best friend," Seth Rowland said. "Me and Van used to do everything together and laugh at everything even during the games. We used to talk about how we would make it together, but the night he left for college, I rarely have seen him since. Hopefully one day we can reunite the fire." 

"It’s always exciting to your former teammate from my high school following their dreams to play professional football," Chris Rowland said. "Van is a great guy and a good friend of me and Seth. I wish him nothing but the best for this upcoming process."

The two also reflect on their time as TSU Tigers positively.

"Though I didn’t get to fully showcase my true potential I got to show a little bit of what I can do and that is all I ever needed," Seth Rowland said. "[Head coach] Rod Reed gave me the opportunity and I took advantage of it, when he first brought me in he didn’t know that I would be an actual flame to the team, and leading up to the last week of the game, at practice he pulled me over to the side and told me how proud of me he was and that I have a bright future.

"I’ll never forget after the last game Gary Fisher, our defensive coordinator, said to me these words, 'this is not the last time you’ll play football, I promise you that.'" 

"As I reflect on my time at TSU I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to attend such a great university," Chris Rowland said. "Attending an HBCU was the best decision I’ve made in my life."

Nothing is set in stone for the Rowlands as of now for their football careers, but both players have a chance to continue their pro careers once the NFL Draft gets rolling. 

For Seth, it's not about the weekend as much as it is getting back on the field. 

"Being real, this draft isn’t for me, because I know I’ll have to get mine another way like I do everything else," Seth Rowland said. "I don’t care about being drafted or signed, all I need is one shot to show why I should have been drafted or signed." 

For Chris, he'll be enjoying his time with his friends and family to see if his chance is to be. 

"Chill, relax and be with family and friends and enjoy the quality downtime I have at the moment," he said of what the weekend holds. 

The NFL Draft gets underway Thursday, April 23. 

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