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Alabama's DeVonta Smith becomes first wide receiver since 1991 to win Heisman Trophy

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DeVonta Smith is the first receiver to win the Heisman in nearly 30 years.

The Alabama star was awarded the 2020 Heisman Trophy on Tuesday ahead of teammate Mac Jones, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. Smith is the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Michigan’s Desmond Howard won the award after the 1991 season.

Smith is the third Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy and all three of those Crimson Tide wins have come in the last 12 seasons. Current Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram was the first Alabama Heisman winner in 2009 and Tennessee Titans rusher Derrick Henry won the trophy in 2015.

The Heisman win comes as Smith and Jones prepare to play Ohio State in the national championship game on Monday. Three years ago, Smith burst onto the scene when he caught a national title-winning overtime touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa against Georgia. During the 2020 season, Smith was the most dominant offensive player in college football.

Smith thanked his parents, coaches and teammates in his acceptance speech. He’s not the biggest or fastest wide receiver in college football, but he’s the most dynamic and maybe the best route runner in the country.

“To all the young kids out there who aren’t the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing,” Smith said. “I’m not the biggest, I’ve been doubted a lot because of my size and really, it just comes down to if you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job’s too big.”

Smith had 1,856 points in the Heisman voting system. Lawrence finished second with 1,187 while Jones was third with 1,130. Trask was fourth with 737.

Smith scored 22 total TDs in 2020

Smith enters the title game with a whopping 105 catches for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also has a rushing touchdown and a punt return touchdown. No receiver has more receptions, receiving yards or total touchdowns than Smith.

While Smith has played 12 games — more than most players across college football in the pandemic-impacted 2020 season — he has at least 19 catches more than any other receiver and over 400 receiving yards more than any player in college football.

He’s been that productive while playing the second half of the season without teammate Jaylen Waddle on the field. Smith and Waddle entered 2020 as the top receiving duo in college football. But Waddle went down against Tennessee and defenses could afford to shift more of their passing defense focus to Smith.

It hasn’t slowed him down. Smith had over 100 yards receiving in six of the seven games after Waddle went down and even broke the 200-yard mark twice.

Smith was unstoppable against both Mississippi State and LSU. He had 11 catches for 2013 yards and four touchdowns against the Bulldogs on Halloween and then torched the Tigers over a month later. Smith caught three first-half TD passes against LSU and finished with eight receptions for 231 yards in Alabama’s blowout win over the defending national champions.

Smith’s closing statement was fantastic too. Voting for the Heisman closed two days after Alabama beat Florida for the SEC title. In that game, Smith had a season-high 15 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. It was his seventh multi-touchdown game of the season.

Against Notre Dame on Friday, Smith had seven catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns.

If Smith wasn’t going to win the Heisman after his dominant season, it was fair to question when a wide receiver would win the award again. Quarterbacks have won the Heisman ever since Henry won in 2015 and Henry and Ingram are the only non-quarterbacks to win the Heisman since Reggie Bush won his (now-vacated) Heisman in 2005.

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