Alabama’s DeVonta Smith wins Heisman Trophy

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith celebrates receiving Offensive Player of the Game, following a 31-14 win against Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl presented by Capital One at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/TNS)

DeVonta Smith of Alabama became arguably the first pure first wide receiver ever to win the Heisman Trophy on Tuesday, when he outpolled three quarterbacks.

The senior from Amite, La., outdistancing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, who were also finalists.

Not since Michigan multipurpose cornerback/receiver/returner Charles Woodson in 1997 – in a shocking announcement over Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning – has anyone other than a quarterback or running back received the honor.

Smith becomes the third Alabama player to win college football’s top individual award, joining running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015).

The trophy has been awarded annually since 1936, and almost always has gone to a passer or runner.

Previously, Michigan’s Desmond Howard (1991), Notre Dame’s Tim Brown (1987), and Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers (1972) were wide receivers, but they also gained much of their acclaim as return specialists.

This season, for the first time, Smith returned punts for Alabama, but he returned only nine punts. He averaged 24.3 yards on those returns, with one touchdown. He also had one rushing score.

It was his receiving that earned Smith the Heisman. He has 105 receptions for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, with one game remaining – the national championship against Ohio State.

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