NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State football team placed 10 members on the Phil Steele All-Ohio Valley Conference team. Senior Chris Rowland led the selections for the Big Blue with four spots on the team as well as being named both, Offensive Player of the Year and the Special Teams Player of the Year.
Along with Rowland, Lachavious Simmons, Nick Harper Jr., Steven Newbold, Raekwon Allen, Thomas Burton, Antonio Zita, Kaleb Mosley, Thomas Newburg and Dajour Nesbeth were honored.
Rowland earned a spot on the first team at wide receiver and as the all purpose selection. The recent graduate was also placed on the second team as a punt returner and on the third team as a kick returner.
Simmons and Harper were also named to the first team. Simmons started all 12 games this season and anchored an offensive line which averaged 400.1 yards per game. The unit finished third in the OVC in total offense, second in passing with 260.7 yards per game and second with 1.75 sacks per game.
Harper led the conference and finished 11th in the nation with 1.3 passes defended per game. The cornerback finished fifth on the team with 58 tackles, 46 solo, 14 pass breakups and two interceptions.
Newbold, Allen, Burton, Zita, Mosley and Newburg all joined Rowland as members of the second team. Allen and Burton started all 12 games alongside Simmons on the offensive line. Allen spent all of his time at right guard, while Burton split time at center and left guard.
Newbold posted a career year with 59 receptions for 823 yards and six touchdowns. The senior finished fifth in the OVC in receptions per game (4.9) and seventh in receiving yards per game (68.6).
Zita finished with a conference high 20 field goals, which tied for the fifth most in a single season in OVC history. The sophomore also topped the OVC, ranking sixth in the nation, averaging 1.67 field goals per game. The kicker also ranked seventh in the FCS and topped the OVC in field goal percentage (.833). Zita scored double digit points in four contests and finished with 91 points on the season, one point shy of the conference leader.
Mosley led the OVC in punting, averaging 42.2 yards per punt, which was ranked 20th in the nation. The sophomore had 44 boots for 1,857 yards with a career long 64-yarder to highlight the season. Mosley finished eight punts over 50 yards, while placing 12 inside the 20.
Newburg finished the last three seasons without a bad snap on punts or kicks. With Newburg snapping, the Tigers have not allowed a blocked punt in three years and surrendered just two blocked field goals in the last two seasons, both coming against FBS opponents.
Nesbeth earned a spot on the third team along with Rowland. The defensive back suffered an injury in the first game of the season forcing him to miss three contests. The senior was moved to safety in his return due to injuries, before moving back to cornerback in the final two games. Despite the layoff, Nesbeth finished sixth on the team with 50 tackles, 4.0 for loss, to go along with an interception and four pass breakups.
Phil Steele All-Ohio Valley Conference
Offensive Player of the Year
Special Teams Player of the Year
Chris Rowland – WR
Lachavious Simmons – OL
Nick Harper Jr. – DB
Chris Rowland – AP
Steven Newbold – WR
Raekwon Allen – OL
Thomas Burton – OL
Antonio Zita – K
Kaleb Mosley – P
Chris Rowland – PR
Thomas Newburg – LS
Dajour Nesbeth – DB
Chris Rowland – KR