LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock Touchdown Club, in conjunction with the Great American Conference announced Slippery Rock senior quarterback Roland Rivers III as the winner of the 2019 Harlon Hill Trophy as the Division II College Football Player of the Year.
Rivers III received 199 total points, 57 points clear of Notre Dame College’s Jaleel McLaughlin. Tarleton State’s Zimari Manning placed third, the highest showing for a wide receiver since Pittsburg State’s Ronnie West won the award in 1991 and Wofford College’s Shawn Graves took third the same year.
Division II Sports Information Directors act as the voter for the award. A total of 96 SIDs participated in the final voting. The point system of three points for a first place vote, two for second and one for third determined the point total.
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Rivers III led The Rock to a 13-1 record and their second appearance in the NCAA Division II National Semifinals. He tallied 54 first-place votes, the fourth-highest total in the 34-year history of the award and the most since Abilene Christian’s Bernard Scott garnered 66 in 2008. He appeared on 85 of the 96 ballots.
Rivers set the Division II record for points responsible for a season with 370. His 61 touchdowns accounted for tied the DII single-season record with 2016 Harlon Hill recipient Justin Dvorak, from Colorado School of Mines. His 52 touchdown passes led the country and ranked as the fourth-best total in DII history. He also led the nation in passing yards and total offense while ranking second in passing efficiency. He produced just the fourth season of 5,000 yards of total offense in DII history.
He becomes the sixth-straight quarterback to claim the award. He also joins Bloomsbug’s Irvin Sigler (1997), East Stroudsburg’s Jimmy Terwilliger (2005), Shippensburg’s Zach Zulli (2012) and Bloomsburg’s Franklyn Quiteh (2013) as the fifth player from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference to take home the Harlon Hill, tied with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Gulf South Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, for the most by an DII conference.
For fifth time in the history of the award, the top two finishers met in a DII playoff game. Rivers III and McLaughlin partook in a classic as Rivers threw for six touchdowns and ran for two more in a 65-59 contest. The Harlon Hill winner’s squad has now won four of the five contests.
Rivers III will be honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club awards banquet on Thursday, January 9, 2020.
The Hill Trophy is named for the late Harlon Hill - the former University of North Alabama standout - who excelled with the Lions from 1950-53 before going on to fame in the National Football League with the Chicago Bears.