DeVonta Smith Wins College Football’s Most Prestigious Honor
It’s a rare occasion for a wide receiver to put up the kind of astronomical numbers DeVonta Smith recorded with the Crimson Tide this season. Smith led the FBS with 105 receptions, 1,641 yards, and 20 TD’s all while averaging 15.6 per catch. Smith dominated the competition all season long as he became the winner of the 85th Heisman Trophy. He received 447 1st place votes which were 225 more than the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the award, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Smith also became the 3rd player in Alabama history to win the prestigious honor and becomes the 1st wide receiver to win the award since Michigan’s Desmond Howard back in 1991. He is only the 4th player at his position to win the Heisman putting him in elite company along with Howard, Johnny Rodgers, and Tim Brown.
The Heisman has mostly been won by quarterbacks over the years, but every now and then, a special player like Smith comes along and has a special season and just outshines everyone else. Alabama’s wide receiver corps featured Smith, Jaylen Waddle, and John Metchie with all 3 boasting incredible attributes such as elite speed, awesome route running, and great hands with the ability to gain big chunks of yardage after the catch. Alabama’s quarterback Mac Jones, who also had a stellar season himself and finished 3rd in Heisman voting, evenly spread the ball around to his talented pass catchers. Waddle, who is just as dynamic as Smith, injured his ankle in the Tide’s October 24th matchup against Tennessee. During Smith’s first 5 games with Waddle in the lineup, Smith compiled 45 catches, 556 yards to go along with 4 TDs. During the 5-game stretch after Waddle’s injury, Smith elevated his game and exploded for 38 catches, 771 yards, and an eye-popping 11 TD’s. That 5 game stretch was a huge reason Smith won the Heisman as he stepped up and produced in a big way.
Even though the voting had already taken place before the conference championship games, Smith saved his best performance for the SEC Championship against the Florida Gators where he caught 15 passes with 184 yards and 2 TDs. He was also impressive in his performance in the College Football Playoff Semifinal against Notre Dame catching 7 passes for 130 yards and 3 TD’s as he gave the Irish’s defense issues all game as they had no answer for him.
A lot of factors played a role in Smith becoming the recipient of the Heisman Trophy. The hard work he put in, competing against the best in practice combined with his ability to rise to the occasion and lead his team in the big moments when it matters; reminiscent of his game-winning catch in overtime as a freshman to win the 2017 National Championship for Alabama. Only 3 non-quarterbacks have won the Heisman since 2001 (all players from Alabama) and for a wide receiver to even become a finalist is an achievement in itself. Smith clearly has been the best player on the field not only for the Tide but in all of college football.