PITTSBURGH – Former Slippery Rock University All-American quarterback and 2019 NCAA Division II Harlon Hill Trophy winner Roland Rivers III agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Steelers Saturday night and accepted an invite to the Steelers' Rookie Minicamp in May.
Rivers wrapped up his collegiate career at Slippery Rock by leading the program to the best season in school history in 2019, but saw his NFL dreams put on hold as the pandemic canceled many traditional NFL Rookie Minicamps and other opportunities for small college players.
Undeterred, Rivers worked tirelessly over the last year and earned an opportunity with the Steelers after a strong performance at the Penn State Pro Day this spring, where he was the only quarterback in attendance and threw passes for Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth. The Steelers drafted Freiermuth in the second round of the NFL Draft Friday night and added Rivers to the Rookie Minicamp list Saturday night.
"I'm not sure there are words to describe how happy I am for Roland," said an elated Shawn Lutz, head coach of The Rock football team. "His NFL dreams were put on hold a little bit by the changes brought on by the pandemic, but he just kept working his tail off over the last year hoping for an opportunity. To have him getting his chance in the NFL, and to have it coming with the Steelers and coach Tomlin is just so special for him and our program."
Rivers took home the highest individual honor in Division II football in 2019 when he became the first Slippery Rock player to ever win the Harlon Hill Trophy. He was also named the National Offensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous first team All-American. The accolades poured in for Rivers after he led The Rock to a 13-1 overall record that included a trip to the NCAA Division II national semifinals, a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship and an NCAA Super Region One Title.
He set the Division II single-season record for points responsible for with 370 and tied the Division II single-season records for touchdowns responsible for (61) and games with at least three passing touchdowns (11). Rivers also shattered the SRU single-season records for completions (322), passing yards (4,460), passing touchdowns (52) and total offense (5,160). His 52 passing touchdowns are the fourth most in Division II history in a single-season and he became just the fourth player in Division II history to top 5,000 total offensive yards in a single-year.
He ranked first in the nation in passing yards (4,460), passing touchdowns (52), total offense (5,160) and points responsible for (370) and finished the year completing 322-of-481 passes for 4,460 yards with 52 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, while also rushing for 700 yards and nine touchdowns. Rivers shattered the SRU career record for touchdown passes, throwing 80 in just 26 games over two seasons at The Rock. His 99 career TD passes at the DII level after transferring to SRU from Valdosta State were 25 more than any other active player in DII at the end of 2019.
Over two years as the SRU starting quarterback, Rivers posted a perfect 14-0 record in PSAC Western Division play, went 23-3 overall and led SRU to at least the quarterfinal round of the Division II playoffs in each season.
Rivers will become the seventh Slippery Rock player since 2015 and the 10th since 2011 to appear in an official NFL camp. The last Rock player to reach the NFL was running back Wes Hills, who broke the SRU single-season rushing record in 2018 and scored two touchdowns in his NFL debut with the Detroit Lions in 2019.
Rivers is scheduled to report to the Steelers May 14.