Rivers wins the Harlon Hill Award

Published by Karl Ludwig, Date: December 20, 2019
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Senior quarterback Roland Rivers III carries the ball against California (Pa.). Rivers threw for 280 yards and four TD's against Gannon.

For the first time in school history, Slippery Rock boasts the Division II College Football Player of the Year.

Slippery Rock senior quarterback Roland Rivers III was named as the 2019 Harlon Hill Award winner Friday morning, capping off a historic season of individual and team success.

Rivers received 199 votes, 57 points clear of the next best finisher, to edge out Notre Dame College running back Jaleel McLaughlin and Tarleton State wide receiver Zimari Manning.

With sports information directors from around the country voting for the award, Rivers’s 54 first-place votes were the fourth highest in the Harlon Hill’s 34-year history and the most since Abilene Christan’s Bernard Scott in 2008. He appeared on 85 of 96 ballots.

As Slippery Rock’s first winner of the most prestigious award in Division II football, Rivers became the fifth player in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference history to win the award. He joined Bloomsburg’s Irvin Sigler (1997), East Stroudsburg’s Jimmy Terwilliger (2005), Shippensburg’s Zach Zulli (2012) and Bloomsburg’s Franklyn Quiteh (2013).

Accounting for 5,160 total yards this season, 4,460 in the air and 700 on the ground, Rivers led all of Division II in passing yards and total offense. With 61 total touchdowns, tied for the Division II single-season record, he broke the Division II record for points responsible for in a season with 370.

The Harlon Hill capped off what has already been a busy award season for Rivers. On Wednesday, he was named as an Associated Press All-American, and on Thursday, he was named as the Ron Lenz National Offensive Player of the Year and a D-2 Conference Commissioners’ Association All-American.

Following the conclusion of the regular season, Rivers was named as the PSAC-West Athlete of the Year and the Super Region One Offensive Player of the Year.

“We’re so proud of Roland for what he has accomplished with our program,” Slippery Rock head coach Shawn Lutz said to Rock Athletics. “To bounce back from an injury the way he did and put up the kind of numbers he did here over the last two years speaks to the kind of work ethic he has. No one in the country worked harder in the offseason last year and it showed this fall. This is a tremendous and deserved honor for Roland.”

Rivers became just the second player in Slippery Rock’s history to be named the D2CCA Player of the Year, following former Rock defensive end Marcus Martin (2017).

With the Don Hansen Football Gazette and D2football.com All-American teams still unannounced, Rivers has a couple more chances to rake in individual accolades.

Like former Rock running back Wes Hills last season, Rivers will likely garner multiple postseason bowl games for NFL hopefuls and potentially an invite to the 2020 NFL combine.

With the multitude of awards, highlighted by the Harlon Hill, Rivers will enter the offseason as one of the most decorated players in all of college football.

Rivers will officially be honored as the Harlon Hill winner at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet Jan. 9, 2020.

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