DeVonta Smith Is Only Fourth WR To Win the Heisman Trophy—Here Are the Others

DeVonta Smith joined an extremely exclusive club on Tuesday night as he became only the fourth wide receiver in history to win the Heisman Trophy in 85 years and the first since 1991. The Alabama wideout received 447 first-place votes and 1,856 total points, beating Crimson Tide teammate Mac Jones, one of the three quarterbacks among the finalists along with Clemson star Trevor Lawrence and Florida signal-caller Kyle Trask.

Lawrence, the presumptive first overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, finished second with 1,187 points, followed by Jones and Trask with 1,130 and 737 points respectively.

Smith was the most productive wide receiver in the FBS during the regular season to the tune of 105 receptions, 1,641 receiving yards, 20 touchdowns and 1,912 all-purpose yards—all regular season-high figures among wide receivers in the top tier of college football.

The Alabama senior, who became the first wide receiver to win the AP Player of the Year since the award's inception in 1998, had seven receptions for 130 yards and the three touchdowns in Alabama's 31-14 win over Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl on January 1, which served as College Football Playoff semifinal and earned the Crimson Tide a berth in the CFP national title game against Ohio State on January 11.

Smith, a national champion with Alabama in 2018, is the first wideout to win the award since Michigan's Desmond Howard scooped the accolade in 1991 and only the fourth following Nebraska star Johnny Rodgers in 1972 and Notre Dame wideout Tim Brown in 1987.

To put Smith's achievement into perspective, aside from the trio, only another five wide receivers have ever finished in the top four of the Heisman Trophy voting since Howard won the award in 1991—Randy Moss, Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook finished fourth in 1997, 2012 and 2016 respectively, while Larry Fitzgerald was runner-up in 2003 and Amari Cooper, who also played at Alabama, finished third in 2014.

Smith set the all-time record for receiving yards at Alabama this season and is also only the third Crimson Tide player to receive the award after current Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Ingram and Tennessee Titans star rushing back Derrick Henry, who won the Heisman in 2010 and 2015 respectively.

Here's a look at the previous wide receivers who won college football's most coveted individual prize.

Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith of the Alabama Crimson Tide poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy on January 5 in New York (Photo by Kent Gidley/Heisman Trophy Trust via Getty Images) Kent Gidley/Heisman Trophy Trust/Getty

Johnny Rodgers, Nebraska—1972

A jack of all trades at Nebraska—he served as punt return specialist and played both at wide receiver and running back—Rodgers was a two-time College Football All-American, a two-time national champion and became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in 1972, finishing the regular season with 58 catches, 1,013 yards and nine touchdowns, to which he added 348 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns over 73 carries.

Selected by the San Diego Chargers with the 25th overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft, Rodgers spent four seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes, before making his NFL debut with the Chargers in 1977. His NFL career, however, was cut short after just 17 games following a serious knee injury.

Tim Brown, Notre Dame—1987

Brown finished the 1987 season with 39 receptions, 846 yards and three touchdowns, to which he added 144 rushing yards and a touchdown over 34 carries and 857 return yards between kicks and punts, three of which were returned for a score.

A unanimous All-American in 1987, Brown's outstanding talent never translated into team success at collegiate level—over his four seasons at Notre Dame the Fighting Irish were 25-21 and lost both of their appearances in bowl games.

The trend continued in the NFL, where Brown became a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro but never managed to win the Super Bowl. Drafted with the sixth overall pick by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988, Brown was named in the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015 after a 17-season spell in the league.

Desmond Howard, Michigan—1991

The last wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy until Tuesday night, Howard had 62 catches for 985 yards and 19 touchdowns over the 1991 season. A versatile player like Rodgers and Brown, Howard added 180 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns as well as 684 return yards between kicks and punts, with two more touchdowns. One of those came against Ohio State and resulted in one of Howard's most famous moments, as he celebrated by imitating the pose of the player on the Heisman Trophy bust.

Drafted with the fourth overall pick by Washington in the 1992 NFL Draft, Howard spent nine seasons in the NFL with Washington, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Oakland and Detroit and was named Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XXXI as the Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35-21.