The Story of the “Slim Reaper”
From Stick-Figure to College Football Star — The Story of the “Slim Reaper”
Jordan Young '21
Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing a mere 175 pounds, Devonta Smith is not your average college football player. In fact, “Smitty” looks more like a cross country runner than a college football superstar. But that’s exactly what he is: the best player in college football.
In a virtual ceremony on January 5, Devonta Smith was awarded the eighty-sixth Heisman trophy, the award presented to the most outstanding player in all of college football. He edged out two Alabama teammates Mac Jones (QB) and Najee Harris (RB), as well as two other quarterbacks Kyle Trask (Florida), and likely number-one overall pick Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) to take home the honor.
Smith is the first wide receiver to win the award since Desmond Howard in 1991, and the first non-quarterback or running-back to accomplish the feat since Charles Woodson in 1997, both of whom played their college ball at the University of Michigan. He is also one of only seven total players that did not play quarterback or running-back since the Heisman trophy was first awarded all the way back in 1935, to University of Chicago running-back Jay Berwanger.
In his acceptance speech, Smith first thanked God for getting him to where he was. He then proceeded to relay a message to kids who, like Smith, were being overlooked because of their size. He said: "To all the young kids out there that's not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing, because I'm not the biggest, I've been doubted a lot just because of my size. Really, it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job is too big."
Smith went from a scrawny high school kid who would drop to the floor and do pushups whenever he saw his reflection because he thought he was too small to play college football to the best player in NCAA football, and he wanted to let other young kids know that they could do the same thing if they were willing to put in the work.
After catching the legendary “2nd-and-26” game-winning touchdown in the 2018 National Championship game against Georgia, Smith’s Alabama career was dampened by injuries in his sophomore season. Even after catching 14 touchdowns his junior year, Smith still somehow managed to fly under the radar.
However, this year, after previous Alabama receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs departed for the NFL and other Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle suffered a recurring ankle injury, Devonta Smith saw the biggest leap of his football career, finishing with 117 receptions for 1856 yards and 23 touchdowns, 21 receptions 663 yards and 4 touchdowns more than any other player in each category.
After winning the National Championship game against a very good Ohio State football team, and being awarded National Championship MVP for setting multiple championship game records (all in the first half I might add), Smith officially declared for the 2021 NFL Draft in April.
After setting the Alabama record for career receiving yards and the SEC record for career receiving touchdowns, Smith is projected to be taken off the board somewhere in the top ten picks and there is little doubt among football scouts and analysts that wherever the “Slim Reaper” ends up, he’s sure to make a difference and have a very successful NFL career.