In just one week, Devonta Smith has the opportunity to have two pieces of college football history hardware. Smith became the third Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy and the first receiver in college football to do so since Desmond Howard in 1991.
Smith beat out three quarterbacks, including former National Champion Trevor Lawrence. It was his humility that stood out while accepting the award. Possibly because he still has a National Championship to compete for on Monday against Ohio State.
Statistically, Smith was second to none in college football this season. He led FBS in touchdowns (20), receiving yards (1,641), and receptions (105). Smith also holds the Alabama record for receiving yards and touchdowns, surpassing Amari Cooper.
“To all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest or the strongest, just keep pushing,” Smith said. “No job is too big.” He recognized he wasn’t the biggest or strongest, standing 6’1 and 175 pounds.
Despite his height and weight, Smith proved his athleticism is special. At the 2016 The Opening Finals at the Nike World Headquarters, Smith was among the top 166 players in the country invited to showcase their football talent.
Football Director of Player Personnel at Student Sports, who put on the event, Ronny Torres says Smith was exceptional to watch at all the events at the five day finals. One of those events happened to be a Slam Dunk competition where Smith came in second place to Jalen Raegor, a 2020 1st round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“He didn’t always put up crazy numbers or catches at events,” said Torres. “But when it came to game time or in that instance the Slam Dunk competition, he has the incredible jumping ability and impressive athleticism for his size.”
To make The Opening Finals you have to be invited from one of the 14 regional events prior. Those events hosted nearly four hundred high school football players.
Smith attended the regionals in New Orleans before the Finals and Torres says his path wasn’t by accident.
“Everything he is doing this year is no surprise from any of us who spent time around him over the years,” Torres said.
Amite, Louisiana, a population of just over four thousand, is the home of Smith, and was shown on ceremony night to have hundreds from the community in support of their best athletic prospect. In his acceptance speech, Smith thanked Amite for sticking with him every step of the way.
Smith joins elite company as 27 of the last 28 Heisman winners played quarterback or running back. Howard (1991), Tim Brown (1987), and Johnny Rodgers (1972) were the only other receivers to win the Heisman.
“In the five days at The Opening Finals it showed how humble he was and how much of a competitor he is,” said Torres. “Whether it was the Slam Dunk finals, one on ones, or a National Championship, no moment is too big for him and we as a staff are excited to watch that carry to the NFL.”