Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith has been making history all season. Today, he added to his impressive list of accolades, and made college football history in the process.
Smith, the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this season, just became the first wide receiver to with the AP Player of the Year award. He finished winning a resounding x first place votes, beating out teammate Mac Jones. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Florida’s Kyle Trask, the other two Heisman finalists, finished third and fourth in the voting.
Interestingly, Smith is also the first Alabama player to win the award from the Associated Press. While the award often tracks with Heisman voting, with 17 of the 22 AP winners going on to win the Heisman, two divergences have come with Alabama’s Heisman wins. On the years Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry took home college football’s biggest award, Nebraska DL Ndamukong Suh and Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey won the AP Award, respectively.
DeVonta Smith has had a remarkable season for the Crimson Tide, with 98 receptions for 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns so far this year, all career highs despite a shortened season. He also has a rushing touchdown, and a punt return touchdown on the year. His numbers escalated after the season ending injury to fellow potential first-rounder Jaylen Waddle at mid-year.
The AP Player of the Year award has been given out since 1998, but has never gone to a wide receiver before this year. The Heisman has had three wide receivers win the award before.
The last came in 1991, with Michigan’s Desmond Howard taking it home. Before him, Notre Dame's Tim Brown (1987) and Nebraska's Johnny Rodgers (1972) won the award while playing the position.
While quarterback is the most important position in the sport, and its dominance over the Heisman in recent season makes sense as a result, in a year where no quarterback truly stood above the rest (even if it is in part due to Trevor Lawrence's missed games due to COVID-19), it would be nice to see a player at a non-QB/running back position get this recognition.
The virtual Heisman ceremony takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 5.