The Heisman Trophy

Updated January 5, 2021  at 9:11 PM CT

Alabama’s DeVonta Smith becomes 1st WR to win Heisman Trophy since 1991

        DeVonta Smith claimed the Heisman Trophy in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday night, becoming the first receiver since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991 to win the award.

The Alabama star is just the fourth player at the position to win the nations’ top player award.

The senior standout earned 447 first-place votes to claim the honor over Florida’s Kyle Trask, Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, and teammate Mac Jones. He joins Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry as the only Alabama players to win the Heisman Trophy in the program’s storied history.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder dubbed ‘the slim reaper’ turned in one of the best seasons for a receiver the sport has ever seen in 2020. Heading into Monday’s national championship contest, Smith leads the nation with 1,641 receiving yards, 105 catches, and 22 total touchdowns for the year.

While he performed strongly at the beginning of the campaign, Smith really came on following the injury to fellow wideout Jaylen Waddle in mid-October. In seven games without Waddle, Smith averaged 155 yards receiving and scored 17 total touchdowns. The 1,085 yards he compiled in those seven games would have him ranked seventh in the country for the entire season.

The Heisman Trophy marks the end of an incredible career for Smith at Alabama. As a freshman on the 2018 national championship team, he caught the game-winning 41-yard touchdown pass in overtime versus Georgia.

The Crimson Tide saw two players make the final list of nominees: QB Mac Jones and WR DeVonta Smith.

Alabama is the 2nd school to have 3 of the top-5 players (DeVonta Smith, Mac Jones, Najee Harris) in the Heisman Trophy voting in a single year joining the 1946 Army team (Arnie Tucker, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis). Army had 1, 4 and 5 spots that year.

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

Year: Junior

Key stats: 2,753 passing yards, 29 total TDs

Kyle Trask, QB, Florida

Year: Senior

Key stats: 4,125 passing yards, 43 passing TDs, 69.7% completion

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama

Year: Redshirt junior

Key stats: 3,739 passing yards, 32 TDs, 76% completion

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Year: Senior

Key stats: 1,511 receiving yards, 19 total TDs

Jones and Smith give Alabama 10 Heisman finalists since 1982. Trask is Florida’s eighth finalist (which includes two appearances by Danny Wuerffel and three by Tim Tebow) while Lawrence is Clemson’s third finalist selection (DeShaun Watson was named finalist twice). Oklahoma has the most with 11.

Jones, a redshirt junior in his first full season as Alabama’s starting quarterback, joined Smith in leading Alabama to an 11-0 record, an SEC title win against Florida and the top seed in the College Football Playoff. Jones, the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in addition to being All-SEC first team, completed 250-of-327 passes for a nation-leading completion percentage of 76.5 while his passer rating of 202.3 is also first. He has thrown for 3,739 yards (second-most in the nation) and 32 touchdowns (tied for third most). He earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week four times this season for his performances against Texas A&M, Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn. Jones threw for over 400 yards four times (the most in a career in Alabama history), including three times in a row against Texas A&M (435), Mississippi (417) and Georgia (417) and tossed four or more TDs six times, including two games with five against Auburn and Florida in the SEC title game (to go with 418 passing yards). Jones completed over 80.0% of his passes three times and completed at least 74.1% of his passes in eight of 11 games. 

Lawrence, a junior, was named the 2020 ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year while leading Clemson to the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff, its third straight appearance under Lawrence that includes a national title as a 2018 true freshman. Lawrence also directed the Tigers to their sixth straight conference title while becoming the first starting quarterback ever to win three ACC Championship Games. Lawrence won all nine of his starts (he missed two games due to COVID protocols), completing 198-of-286 passes for 2,753 yards and a completion percentage of 69.2 with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. He finished the season with a passer rating of 172.7 and was seventh nationally in total yards per game (329.3) which included 211 yards on the ground to go with seven rushing TDs. His interception on his 12th pass attempt at Georgia Tech ended a streak of 366 consecutive passes without an interception, the second-longest streak in ACC history and 13 pass attempts shy of matching the ACC record. He was named MVP of ACC Championship Game vs. No. 2 Notre Dame after he completed 25-of-36 passes for 322 yards with two passing touchdowns and also rushed for a season-high 90 yards.

Smith, a senior, was named the 2020 SEC Offensive Player of the Year while joining Jones in leading Alabama to the SEC title and the top seed in the CFP. Smith, in 11 games, leads the country with 98 receptions and 1,511 receiving yards while his 17 TD catches and 137.4 receiving yards per game are both second-best and his 8.9 receptions per game are tied for second best. He posted four games with 11 or more receptions, including a career-best and SEC title-game record 15 against Florida, 13 at Mississippi and 11 each against Georgia and Mississippi State. He recorded seven games with over 100 yards receiving (all with at least 144 yards), including 231 yards on eight catches at LSU, 203 against the Bulldogs (which included a season-high four TDs) and 184 yards against the Gators. He had six games with at least two TD receptions, three coming at LSU and two in the SEC title game. Smith also returned a punt for a TD for the first time in his career, going 84 yards at Arkansas in the regular-season finale. He holds the SEC and Alabama career record for receiving touchdowns with 40 and has the most 200-plus yard receiving performances in Alabama history with four.

Trask, a redshirt senior in his second year as a starter, led Florida to the SEC title game during an 8-3 season. Trask boasts national-leading totals of 375.0 passing yards per game, 4,125 passing yards, 43 touchdowns passes, 46 overall touchdowns and 285 completions. His 186.65 passer rating is fifth-best nationally while his completion percentage of 69.7 is ninth best. Trask’s 43 touchdown passes are tied for the eighth-highest total through 11 games in FBS history while his 375.0 passing yards per game is currently third-best ever in SEC history. Trask threw four or more TD passes in each of his first six games this year, making him the first player in SEC history and the fourth FBS QB since 1996 to do so. That included six TD passes in the season-opener at Mississippi as well as against Arkansas. He also became the first player in SEC history and the only FBS quarterback in the last 15 seasons to throw at least three TD passes in nine consecutive games. His five 400-yard games this year are the most in the nation and included two performances of 474 yards against Georgia and LSU as well as 408 in the SEC title game. He also threw for 433 at Tennessee and 416 at Ole Miss.

This is the first time Alabama has multiple Heisman finalists and it is the second year in a row (and the third time in the last five years) there are two from the same school. Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Chase Young were both finalists in 2019.

If either Jones or Smith win, they would be Alabama’s third Heisman winner (RB Mark Ingram 2009, RB Derrick Henry 2015). Jones would be Alabama’s first quarterback winner while Smith would be the first wide receiver to win since Michigan’s Desmond Howard in 1991 and the first non-QB/WR since Charles Woodson in 1997. Trask would be Florida’s fourth winner (QB Steve Spurrier 1966, QB Danny Wuerffel 1996, QB Tim Tebow 2007). Lawrence would be Clemson’s first winner.

Rounding out the top 10 finishers in the 2020 Heisman voting were:

5. Najee Harris, Alabama

6. Breece Hall, Iowa State

7. Justin Fields, Ohio State

8. Zach Wilson, BYU

9. Ian Book, Notre Dame

10. Kyle Pitts, Florida

The 2020 Heisman Trophy ballots went out to 927 electors, which includes 870 members of the media, our 56 living Heisman winners and one overall fan vote presented by Nissan, our premier partner. All ballots were submitted electronically to the independent accountants at Deloitte.



Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News

 Follow @AASNSports on Twitter, or me, @RanDeBord

Attributes: AASNSports; ESPN; HeismanTrophyTrust

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