Give DeVonta Smith the Heisman now.
Devonta Smith’s incredible 2020 season has been rewarded with an historic achievement as the Alabama star this week became the first wide receiver to be named Associated Press Player of the Year since the award’s inception in 1998.
Smith has enjoyed an astonishing year for the Crimson Tide. Going into Alabama’s College Football Playoff semi-final matchup with Notre Dame, Smith has 1,511 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns, topping a 2019 season in which he was the best wideout of a corps that featured two first-round draft picks in Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy.
In a campaign that has seen him win with his route-running, his ability to make extraordinary plays at the catch point and underrated speed and vision in the open field, Smith has established himself as a legitimate contender to be the first wide receiver off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft and the most important player in the Alabama offense.
Jordan Reid of The Draft Network loves the strides Smith has made in 2020:
"“In 2019, he was among a loaded position group and still produced despite the many mouths to feed. Serving as the No. 1 option in 2020, he proved to be one of the most valuable and explosive players in the country. Smith will likely not gain another pound onto his frame and his lack of body strength shows up as a blocker or when operating without the ball.”"
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Looking at the other Heisman candidates besides DeVonta Smith
His status in the Crimson Tide attack is reflected by Smith finishing above quarterback Mac Jones in the Player of the Year voting, the results representing a shift in thinking that has seen him installed as the favorite for the Heisman Trophy.
Previously Jones, Florida’s Kyle Trask and presumptive number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence had been viewed as the leading contenders for the most prestigious individual award in college football.
Yet, for all Jones’ attributes as a composed and intelligent quarterback who processes extremely well, it is fair to wonder where his reputation and Alabama’s offense would be without the consistent performances of Smith in a season in which the Crimson Tide have had to cope without Jaylen Waddle for much of the year.
Though John Metchie III’s emergence has boosted Alabama’s attack, Smith has been the X-factor for the best team in college football, and it is for that reason that he deserves to be the first receiver since Desmond Howard in 1991 to win the Heisman.