Alabama's DeVonta Smith ends wide receiver drought by winning Heisman Trophy
DeVonta Smith caught almost everything thrown his way for Alabama this season. His latest reception came in the form of the Heisman Trophy.
The Crimson Tide wide receiver was the overwhelming winner of the award Tuesday ahead of Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, teammate Mac Jones, and Kyle Trask of Florida.
Smith received 1,856 points to finish comfortably ahead of Lawrence, who was second with 1,187. Jones had 1,130 points and Trask totaled 737.
“I thank my teammates,” Smith said after being announced as the winner. “With team success comes individual success so without you all, I wouldn’t be where I am today, winning this award.
"To all the young kids out there that's not the biggest, not the strongest: just keep pushing because I'm not the biggest. I've been doubted a lot just because of my size. And really it just comes down to if you put your mind to it then you can do it."
Smith's winning campaign is one of the more unexpected developments for the award that has been handed out annually since 1935.
His biggest moment in the national spotlight before this season came as a freshman when he was on the receiving end of a Tua Tagovailoa pass in overtime that beat Georgia in the national title game at the end of the 2017 season.
The senior entered this season with teammates Jones and running back Najee Harris getting more attention and he wasn’t the clear-cut No. 1 receiver on his team with Jaylen Waddle alongside him.
When Waddle was injured Oct. 24 against Tennessee, Smith became the focal point of the passing game. He caught 27 passes for 518 yards and eight touchdowns in his next three games.
Even with the surge of production, Smith didn’t register one vote in the USA TODAY Network Heisman panel of 22 voters in the middle of November and only had two points in the first poll in December. However, an impressive finish pushed him into front-runner status. He had 231 yards and three touchdowns receiving against LSU in a prime-time showing to a national audience. The senior made his final impression with voters with 184 yards and two touchdowns in the SEC title game against Florida in helping the Crimson Tide finish unbeaten and earn the top seed in the College Football Playoff.
Smith, who had 1,511 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches in the regular season, is just the seventh player that did not primarily play quarterback or running back to win the award and the first this century. The last receiver to win the award was Desmond Howard of Michigan in 1991.
Smith is the third Alabama player to win the award following running backs Mark Ingram in 2009 and Derrick Henry in 2015.
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Lawrence placed second in what likely will be his final college season. He was the preseason Heisman favorite after leading Clemson to a national title in 2018 and championship game appearance in 2019. However, he missed two games due to a positive test for COVID-19 and while his numbers in the regular season — 22 touchdown passes in nine games — were impressive and he again led the Tigers to the College Football Playoff, he couldn’t overcome the Alabama receiver.
Jones was third, denying the Alabama teammates from making history. The last time players on the same team finished in the top two spots was Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis of Army in 1945. Harris finished fifth, giving the team three players in the top five, something not done since Army in 1946.
Jones, who threw for 3,739 yards and 32 touchdowns in the regular season, missed out on the highest placing for an Alabama quarterback. AJ McCarron and Tua Tagovailoa were runner-ups.
The numbers for Trask were also impressive. He set an SEC record with at least four touchdown passes in his first six games and easily led the nation with 4,125 passing yards and 43 touchdowns during the regular season. He was leading the USA TODAY Network panel voting until consecutive losses to end the regular season damaged his candidacy.
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Follow USA TODAY Sports colleges reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith