The Heisman Trophy is headed back to Tuscaloosa. DeVonta Smith is your 2020 Heisman Trophy winner, becoming just the fourth receiver to win the award and first since Desmond Howard in 1991. The Alabama senior stood tall in a stacked field featuring runner-up Trevor Lawrence (the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft) and Smith’s teammate Mac Jones with Kyle Trask of Florida rounding out the top four. Running back Najee Harris, also of Alabama, finished fifth.
While Clemson fans would argue Lawrence got a raw deal, Smith was a more than deserving winner, leading the nation in catches (105), receiving yards (1,641) and touchdowns (20), the latter mark tying the SEC record established by La’Marr Chase during LSU’s title run in 2019. The recipient of last year’s Biletnikoff Award as college football’s top receiver, Chase opted out of the 2020 season, citing COVID concerns and his ongoing draft preparations.
Smith’s victory was foreshadowed days earlier when the 22-year-old was honored as the Associated Press’ College Football’s Player of the Year. The 6’1” receiver is surprisingly only the third player in Alabama’s storied history to claim the Heisman, joining past recipients Derrick Henry (2015) and Mark Ingram (2009). Both have gone on to successful pro careers with Henry recently becoming just the eighth NFL player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.
Smith, who hails from Amite, Louisiana (about four hours southwest of Tuscaloosa), demolished Notre Dame in Friday’s Rose Bowl, earning Offensive MVP honors for the Crimson Tide by virtue of his seven catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns. The expected first-round pick (RADIO.COM’s Tim Kelly had the Eagles selecting him sixth overall in a mock draft posted earlier today) will hope to put on a similar display when undefeated ‘Bama opposes Ohio State, fresh off a Sugar Bowl rout of second-ranked Clemson, for all the marbles Monday night in Miami. Alabama will be seeking its sixth title under Nick Saban (with prior triumphs coming in 2009, ’11, ’12, ’15 and ’17) while the Buckeyes are looking to top the FBS podium for the first time since 2014.
The Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious individual honor, is usually presented in New York, but the COVID pandemic prompted a change of venue with this year’s ceremony instead being held at ESPN’s Bristol studios in Connecticut. None of the four finalists attended in person with Smith, Lawrence, Jones and Trask each participating remotely.