OHIO VALLEY CONFERENCE
Offensive Player of the Year: Chris Rowland, WR/RS, Tennessee State
Rowland, the OVC Offensive Player of the Year, 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). Named first-team All-OVC as both a wide receiver and return specialist, Rowland became just the second player in OVC history to catch 100 passes in a season (joining Eastern Illinois All-American Erik Lora who accomplished the feat in 2012 and 2013).
As a return specialist he is one of just two FCS players to return both a kick return and a punt return for a touchdown this season. His kickoff return score went for 96 yards against Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis while his punt return score came in the first half against Eastern Illinois, as it went for 57 yards. Rowland was the only Division I player (FBS or FCS) to score a touchdown via kick return, punt return, reception and rushing in 2019. 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.
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Patrick, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Patrick finished the season with 52 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception. The redshirt senior led the OVC in sacks per game (0.83) and was second in tackles for a loss (1.38 per game). He ranks 11th nationally in sacks per game, 22nd in forced fumbles and 29th in tackles for a loss per game). He is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in FCS football.
The Dayton, Ohio native had a season-best eight tackles, including two sacks, in a win over Tennessee State. He had a season-high 3.5 tackles for a loss against nationally-ranked Southeast Missouri. Patrick also recorded two sacks in the season-ending win at Jacksonville State. He concluded his career with 27.5 sacks, the second-most in program history.
Freshman of the Year: John Bachus III, QB, UT Martin
A native of Pulaski, Tenn., Bachus helped key one of the nation’s biggest turnarounds as the Skyhawks posted a five-win improvement over from last season – tied with fellow programs Southern Illinois and Tennessee Tech for second nationally.
Starting in all 12 games this season, Bachus completed 56.6 percent of his passes, going 188-of-332 for 2,549 yards and 18 touchdowns. A four-time OVC Newcomer of the Week and two-time OVC Offensive Player of the Week, he ranks first among freshmen in passing yards (2,549) while climbing into the top-10 in several program single-season categories including total offense (2,642, fifth), passing yards (sixth) and touchdown passes (18, eighth).
Roy Kidd Coach of the Year: Mark Hudspeth, Austin Peay
Hudspeth earned the award in his first season with the program, guiding Austin Peay to a school-record nine wins and its first OVC championship in 42 years as well as its first trip to the FCS playoffs.
He’s the fourth Austin Peay coach to win the award but the second in the past three years. Will Healy won it in 2017. Hudspeth is also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award given to the nation’s top FCS coach – an award Healy won in 2017 as well.
Voting for the postseason awards is done by the conference coaches and sports information directors.
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