College Football

NCAA News: Alabama Wide Receivers Take Center Stage

Julio Jones. Calvin Ridley. Amari Cooper. Henry Ruggs III. Jerry Jeudy. You might be able to do the same exercise for every position in the NFL and find that Alabama has produced some of the best. But for this article, we highlight the wide receiver group, as two current members of the Crimson Tide made waves this week as they continue to prepare to play Ohio State in the CFP National Championship on Monday.

DeVonta Smith Wins Heisman

Star wide receiver DeVonta Smith was awarded the 2020 Heisman Memorial Trophy during a virtual ceremony Tuesday night. Smith beat out teammate Mac Jones, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask for college football's most prestigious award.

Smith received 447 first-place votes, while Lawrence ended with 222 first-place votes to finish second. Jones finished third and Trask fourth.

The 22-year-old Smith becomes the third player from Alabama to claim the trophy, joining running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015). He also is the first receiver to win the Heisman since Michigan's Desmond Howard in 1991.

“To all the young kids out there that are not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing," Smith said during his acceptance speech. "Because I'm not the biggest. I've been doubted a lot because of my size. And really, it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job is too big."

Smith, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, leads the FBS in receptions (105), receiving yards (1,641), and receiving touchdowns (20) this season. He dropped only two passes in 2020.

During his freshman season in 2017, Smith caught the game-winning touchdown from former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to beat Georgia and give the Crimson Tide its most recent national title. Since then, Smith has become the school's all-time leading receiver and is just 10 yards away from surpassing Jordan Matthews (3,759) as the conference's all-time leader in yards.

Earlier this season, Smith broke Cooper’s school record of 16 touchdowns. Smith's 43 career receiving scores have already eclipsed the previous SEC record of 31.

Jaylen Waddle to Play in Title Game?

The rich could be getting even richer as Smith’s teammate, Jaylen Waddle, is practicing this week and could return Monday for the championship game against the Buckeyes. The star receiver has not played since October 24 vs. Tennessee after suffering a serious ankle injury.

Coming into this season, Waddle was named a preseason All-American. Before his injury, the junior had 25 catches for 557 yards and four touchdowns. Ironically, Waddle had the best odds of any non-quarterback to win the Heisman, seen by many as the top WR prospect in college football. That distinction is up for debate now between the two Tide and LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, who opted out.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban gave an update on Waddle this week after the wideout was cleared to practice.

"He's been running, but we need to see him in practice," Saban said. "Our medical people will evaluate him as the week goes on and make a decision from there. He wants to play and has been working hard to get back."
College Football