Banner Image



Atlanta, GA (February 22, 2020) – Tennessee State University​ senior wide receiver Chris Rowland has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Black College Football Player of the Year Award. He was presented with the Deacon Jones Trophy, named in honor of the football legend and inaugural Black College Football Hall of Fame inductee.

Black College Football Hall of Fame Trustees James "Shack" Harris, Willie Lanier, Art Shell and Doug Williams made the announcement during the 2020 Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Atlanta on Saturday night. The Award recognizes the most outstanding football player from a Historically Black College & University (HBCU) that embodies the rich tradition of athletic excellence and integrity associated with HBCUs.

While at Tennessee State University Football​, Rowland set an HBCU record with 104 receptions during the season, eclipsing the old mark of 103 set by Black College Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in 1984. He was named First Team All-Ohio Valley Conference​ (OVC) as a wide receiver and return specialist. Rowland led the Conference in receptions, yards (1,437) and all-purpose yards (2,110), and was name OVC Offensive Player of the Year. He was the only Division I player (FBS or FCS) to score a touchdown via kick return, punt return, reception and rushing.

After leading the nation in receiving yards per game (119.8), Rowland was selected to play in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl​. He was also a Finalist for the Walter Payton Award, named after the Black College Football Hall of Famer, which is given to the FCS Offensive Player of the Year.

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

The Player of the Year was voted on by a five-member Selection Committee, which is composed of Black College Football Hall of Fame Co-Founders James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams, Power News Radio Network's Ty Miller, College Football on ESPN​ Analyst Jay Walker, and former USA Today sports writer Roscoe Nance prior to his passing.

Rowland is just the third recipient of the Deacon Jones Trophy. The inaugural winner was current Chicago Bears​ running back Tarik Cohen (North Carolina A&T State University​) in 2016, and the winner in 2017 and 2018 was quarterback Amir Hall of Bowie State University​.

Other Black College Football Player of the Year Award Finalists included QB Felix Harper (Alcorn State University​), RB Jah-Maine Martin (North Carolina A&T Athletics​) and QB Ryan Stanley (Florida A&M University​).