DeVonta Smith is on the cusp of joining an exclusive group of wide receivers who won the Heisman Trophy.
Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith has electrified the college football world with his stellar play in 2020, making him the Heisman Trophy front-runner.
Initially famous for catching Tua Tagovailoa’s 2nd-and-26 pass in double overtime vs. the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2018 National Championship Game, Smith has become one of the most prolific receivers in college football history. 2020 is a weird enough year that he might actually end up winning the Heisman Trophy and become the fourth receiver, and first since 1991 to take home the honor.
DeVonta Smith would be the fourth receiver to win the Heisman Trophy
To date, only three wide receivers have ever won the Heisman. The first was Johnny Rodgers of the Nebraska Cornhuskers back in 1972. He did so splitting time as a running back during his senior season. 15 years later, Tim Brown of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish earned the honor in 1987 during his senior season as well. The most recent to do it was Desmond Howard.
Only four years removed from Brown being the second wide receiver to ever win the Heisman, Howard did so as a brilliant receiver for the Michigan Wolverine, as well as a generational return man. He struck a pose in the end zone to let everyone know it was his award to lose. Six years later, another Michigan man in defensive back Charles Woodson took home the Heisman in 1997.
While Woodson did play some receiver for the Wolverines, he was always more of a cornerback and a return specialist than anything. In short, it has been a very, very long time since a wide receiver has won the Heisman Trophy. So why is it so notoriously hard for great pass-catchers to ever take home this award? Isn’t the game becoming increasingly passing-centric anyway?
The issue is since 2000 the Heisman has been a quarterback-driven award. Only three non-quarterbacks have won the Heisman in the 21st century. All three were running backs and one of them had to rescind his in 2005’s winner Reggie Bush out of USC. Interestingly enough, the two others went to Alabama backs in Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry in 2009 and 2015, respectively.
Smith will be challenged by a trio of quarterbacks this year in his Alabama teammate Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence of the Clemson Tigers and Kyle Trask of the Florida Gators. While it feels like Smith’s Heisman to lose, it would be something if Jones ended up taking it away from his beloved teammate. Either way, we are this close to having our fourth Heisman-winning wide receiver.
Should Smith be the fourth wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy?