1. Devonta Smith (2017-2020)
Devonta Smith is unquestionably the best receiver in Alabama Football history. He simply has it all: mind-numbing statistical production, enough individual awards and accomplishments to open his own hardware store, unforgettable moments, two national championships, and an underdog story to tie it all together.
Smith came to Tuscaloosa as an undersized receiver, something that would never really change for the Slim Reaper. Despite being one of the smallest players on the field at all times, he constantly proved that he was also one of the toughest. Smith’s freshman year saw him make just eight catches, but included amongst them were a pair of game-winning touchdown grabs. He first led the Tide to a win over Mississippi State with a 26-yard touchdown catch with under a minute to go. Later in the year, he would cement himself as an Alabama Football legend with his “2nd & 26” walk-off touchdown reception in the national championship game against Georgia.
Smith’s role would grow over the next two years, culminating in a breakout junior season in 2019. Despite sharing the field with reigning Biletnikoff winner Jerry Jeudy, Smith notched a then-career-high 68 receptions and quietly led the team with 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Devonta Smith’s junior season included the best single-game receiving performance in school history. Smith racked up 274 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Ole Miss, both records that still stand today. He also went for 213 yards in a loss to LSU that year.
With Jeudy and several others from Bama’s loaded 2017 recruiting class choosing to move on, Devonta Smith returned for his senior year in 2020. Despite the season being shortened due to the pandemic, it proved to be a fruitful decision for Smitty.
In just 13 games, he recorded 117 grabs (2nd in school history) for school records of 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. Smith brought home the Heisman Trophy while helping Alabama to a national title in what was arguably the most dominant season by a receiver in college football history.
His 2020 season included two of the most ridiculous first half performances the sport has ever seen. First, he racked up 219 yards and three touchdowns before halftime in a lopsided win at LSU. He would finish the game with 231 yards (second in school history only behind his own performance against Ole Miss a year prior) as Alabama elected to run out the clock for much of the second half.
Weeks later, Smith would put on a similar show on an even bigger stage. Against Ohio State in the national championship game, he recorded 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns…in the first half. Bama had created some separation, nursing a 35-17 halftime lead, but an injury would take Smith out of the game for much of the second half.
As insane as Devonta Smith’s 2020 numbers were, he could’ve set borderline unbreakable single-game marks in either of these contests.
When it was all said and done, Smitty left Tuscaloosa with the career records for receptions (235), receiving yards (3,965), and touchdowns (46). He also holds the single-game records for all three categories, as well as the single-season records for yardage and touchdowns. In single-season receptions, his 117 mark falls only behind Amari Cooper’s 124, although Cooper’s production came with one additional game.
Devonta Smith is in the top-10 in college football history in single-season receiving yards, single-season receiving touchdowns, and career receiving touchdowns. He is the SEC’s all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdowns, and ranks third in conference history in receptions.
The numbers don’t lie, and neither does the eye test. Regardless of which metric you’re using, Devonta Smith is the best wide receiver in Alabama Football history. As the only true wideout to ever win the Heisman Trophy, Smith might be the greatest receiver in the history of the game. He certainly solidifies Bama’s claim to be the true WRU.