NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State University department of athletics held its annual awards banquet virtually Monday evening and Chris Rowland walked away with the night’s top honor.
Rowland was named the 2020 Athlete of the Year after having one of the greatest seasons in program history. He was named the Black College Hall of Fame Player of the Year, OVC Offensive Player of the Year and honored on 12 All-American teams.
He set an HBCU record with 104 receptions during the season, eclipsing the old mark of 103 set by Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in 1984.
The Nolensville, Tenn. native earned First Team All-OVC as a wide receiver and return specialist. He led the league in receptions, yards (1,437) and all-purpose yards (2,110). 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.
Despite being limited in one and a half games in November due to injury, Rowland ranked first nationally in total receiving yards (1,437) and receiving yards/game (119.8), second in all-purpose yards (175.83 yards/game), third in receptions/game (8.7) and 22nd in kickoff returns (25.0 yards/return).
Rowland became just the second player in OVC history to catch 100 passes in a season.
He had six games with 200-plus all-purpose yards during the season, including a season-high 267 against Jackson State. He had six games with 10-plus receptions, including a season-high 14 for 146 yards against Murray State and 11 for a season-high 202 yards and two scores against FBS foe Middle Tennessee.
Rowland signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons on April 25.