MIAMI, Fla. (WSFA) - When DeVonta Smith announced he would return to Tuscaloosa for his senior season, no one knew how big of an impact he’d make on college football.
But even during a year of uncertainty due to the coronavirus, Smith always found a way to prove why he was the best.
“We had a mission,” said Smith. “Everybody wanted to end things the right way. We just all came to work every day and just put in the work. We got the result that we wanted.”
Smith went from clinching the national title for his team as a freshman – where he caught the game-winning pass in overtime to defeat Georgia 26-23 for the trophy – to breaking records left and right in his senior campaign.
Just last week, he was crowned the Heisman Trophy winner, beating out Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, his teammate Mac Jones, and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask.
“I wouldn’t be able to do none of this without my teammates or without God,” said Smith. “I just put in the work every day no matter what the situation was, just believing in my coaches and them putting me in the right situations just to make plays.”
“You’re talking about the ultimate warrior, ultimate competitor,” said head coach Nick Saban about his star receiver. “I’m so happy for him that he was recognized as the best player in college football because I don’t think anybody’s done more for their team than he has for our team.”
The “Heisman Hangover” wasn’t a factor for Smith during the national championship game against Ohio State.
In the first half alone, Smith recording 215 yards and three touchdowns on 12 receptions – the most in national championship game during the College Football Playoff era. He also became the SEC’s all-time leader in receiving yards.
However, the magic came to a halt in the third quarter. Smith left the game after a tough tackle left him with a hand injury, later identified as a dislocated finger. He was forced to watch the remainder of his final college football game from the sidelines.
But that first half performance was enough to earn him offensive MVP awards after the game, a testament to the work he’s put in all season long.
“He’s a great competitor,” said Saban. “I heard somebody say he set some kind of record in the first half of the game. Heavens knows what he would have done if he played the whole game.”
“I just practiced hard all week, just worked, came to do my job. It just worked out well for me and the team,” added Smith.
A man of few words, leaving a lasting legacy as the greatest receiver to ever don the crimson and white. Who would’ve though that game-winning touchdown in his first year at Alabama would only be the beginning.