Heisman Trophy 2020 NCAA The story of the Crimson Tide receiver chosen as the best player of 2020
Multiple movie stories could be made with the latest Heisman Trophy winners. We have to go to 2015, when Derrick Henry overcame Christian McCaffrey to find the last great high school prospect to earn the bronze statuette with a conventional path, since Lamar Jackson exceeding all expectations in 2016.Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Joe Burrow won it after changing college and now DeVonta Smith breaks the nearly 30-year dominance of quarterbacks (19) and running backs (8), the last exception being Charles Woodson in 1997.
The last recipient to have won the award was Desmond Howard de Michigan and 1991 And if you asked someone in Alabama in 2018 who their third Heisman winner would be after Henry in 2015 and Mark Ingram in 2009, A handful of names would have been mentioned (Tua, Jerry Jeudy, Najee Harris, Damien Harris) before speaking to Smith.
Smith came to Alabama as a good prospect, but nothing to write home about. I was a recruit four stars of the 2017 Generation, from Amite, Louisiana. He was the nation’s ninth-best catcher and 62nd overall prospect that year. He wasn’t even the best receiver to sign with Alabama, an honor that went to five star Jerry Jeudy.
Smith’s career was already unforgettable in Alabama before 2020, as he caught the scoring pass from the win over Georgia in January 2018, but that was just one of 8 receptions in his rookie season and he never caught more than one pass in any game that first season. And those 41 yards at the Superdome were his high of the season.
In 2018 he raised his numbers to 42 receptions, 693 yards and 3 touchdowns, but was the fifth option in the aerial game after Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Jaylen Waddle and tight end Irv Smith. At that time, no one would have imagined a Heisman.
His third season, 2019, was the second most pass catcher with 68, but followed behind Jeudy and the explosiveness of Ruggs and Waddle, to such an extent that he opted to return to Alabama for his senior year, as the draft was particularly deep in receivers, with 5 drawn in the first round, including Ruggs and Jeudy, and 6 more in the second.
Without Tua Tagovailoa, the expectation was that Alabama would revert to its tradition of running the ball, but Steve Sarkisian gave Mac Jones all the liberties and, after Waddle’s injury, Smith was the main beneficiary, with 105 receptions (just 13 fewer than in his previous three years combined), 1,641 yards and 20 touchdown receptions, one more rushing touchdown and one more in kick returns, averaging 24.3 yards per attempt.
And it was not a Heisman in which there were no solid options at the top, like perhaps Troy Smith in 2006 or the Jason White and Chris Weinke days, but it had historical seasons of his partner Mac Jones (best season in efficiency of a QB in history) and Kyle Trask (broke Burrow’s records at the SEC conference).
In 8 of his 12 games he has exceeded 100 yards and only in two did he not score in any way. Only against Arkansas did he have less than 6 receptions and that game ended early because they rolled on his leg. Historic season worth one of the most unexpected Heismans in history.