Which player will win the top award in college football?
The Heisman Trophy will be presented on Tuesday, Jan. 5 to one of four finalists for the 2020 college football season. Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith and Alabama quarterback Mac Jones are up for the most prestigious award in college football. Due to COVID-19 and the timing of the announcement, the award will be presented virtually instead of the four finalists gathering in New York. The voting for the Heisman Trophy was compiled prior to the bowl games for all four finalists.
Trask played in 12 games for Florida, ending the year with 4,283 yards and 43 touchdowns to eight picks. Lawrence missed two games due to COVID-19 but still threw for 3,153 yards and 24 touchdowns to five interceptions. The Clemson signal-caller is arguably the most-talented player in college football. Jones directed Alabama’s high-powered offense by throwing for 4,036 yards and 36 touchdowns. Smith was on the receiving end of most of Jones’ throws, as he grabbed 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 scores. He hopes to become the first receiver since Desmond Howard in 1991 to win the Heisman.
Who should win the Heisman Trophy for the 2020 season? Athlon’s editors and contributors make their picks:
Who Should Win the Heisman Trophy for the 2020 Season?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This is a tough decision for the Heisman voters this season. I can make a good case for any of the four players to hoist the trophy on Tuesday night. But if I had a vote, Alabama's DeVonta Smith would get the No. 1 place on the ballot. Smith has been outstanding all season, and his numbers are even more impressive when you consider the focus of the defense has been on the senior even more when Jaylen Waddle was lost against Tennessee due to injury. Smith leads all FBS players in receptions (105), yards (1,641) and touchdowns (20). The senior had eight games of 100 or more yards and came up big in Alabama’s toughest tests. Smith caught 15 passes for 184 yards and two scores against Florida and grabbed 11 receptions for 167 yards and two touchdowns versus Georgia.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Alabama put three players in the top five of the Heisman voting (Najee Harris finished fifth), yet DeVonta Smith has consistently stood out during the Crimson Tide's undefeated run to the national championship game. For a wide receiver to beat a quarterback to win this award, he better do something special, and that's exactly what Smith has done. Numbers-wise he is head and shoulders above his peers at the position, which is more impressive considering he did this against SEC competition (and Notre Dame but the Heisman voting was done before the Rose Bowl/College Football Playoff Semifinal). Yes, Mac Jones has had a special season but nearly two-thirds (63 percent to be exact) of his touchdown passes and 44 percent of his yards are courtesy of Smith. And it's not like Smith wasn't already drawing plenty of defensive attention, especially after fellow wideout Jaylen Waddle was lost for the season, and yet he has consistently produced and in a big way. In a season as unique as this one, it's only fitting that a wide receiver wins the Heisman.
Eric Sorenson (@Stitch_Head)
Okay here's the deal. The Heisman committee did its usual ritual of really screwing up and leaving the transcendent bowl game performances off its list of contenders for the best-player-in-the-country trophy. So considering Ohio State QB Justin Fields was not among the four finalists announced before the bowl games were played, that epic performance vs. Clemson would have merited finalist consideration alone. But, the stodgy Heisman voters chose not to include him so I'm going with DeVonta Smith of Alabama.
Smith's value is unmistakable to anyone who is paying attention. Against Notre Dame, he was personally responsible for the first three touchdowns of their 31-14 rout. Two of them he caught passes and used his amazing shiftiness and his equally amazing speed to score on plays that normally would have simply been 10- to 15-yard gains for any mere mortal wideout. Then, on the TD between those two, Smith pulled double-coverage from the Irish deepbacks, allowing Jahleel Billingsley to sneak behind the 'backers and get wide open in the end zone.
With Fields out of consideration and Smith having game-changing ability without even being the main target of every particular play, I'm going with Bama's mercurial wideout. So there.
Nicholas Ian Allen (@NicholasIAllen)
All the finalists are worthy this season. Kyle Trask has the stats, Mac Jones fits the recent "great quarterback on the best team" criteria, and Trevor Lawrence is one of the best college quarterbacks we've ever seen. But DeVonta Smith would get my vote this year. The Heisman Trophy is supposed to go to the best player in the nation regardless of position, and that's Smith. His production is remarkable on its own, but Smith has taken his game to an even higher level since Jaylen Waddle was injured. Opponents know he's the top target, and they know Alabama doesn't have anywhere near the depth at receiver this year as 2019. Teams have tried to make Jones, the first-year starter and largely unheralded quarterback, beat them and they focus on Smith to try and take his best weapon away... and still can't stop him. Smith has been dominant. He's earned it.
Aaron Tallent (@AaronTallent)
In addition to his rushing and returns, DeVonta Smith's 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns account for more than a third of Alabama's passing yards and over half of its touchdowns through the air. Those numbers are even more remarkable when you consider the fact that Jaylen Waddle also was in the Crimson Tide's receiving corps for the first five games of the season.
Rob McVey (@Rob_UTVOLS)
A reasonable argument could be made for all four finalists. But my vote would go to Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Despite facing SEC competition exclusively during the regular season, Smith consistently performed at a high level, putting up big numbers along the way. If you include his monster performance in the Rose Bowl against Notre Dame, Smith is unmatched on the stat sheet among his peers at wide receiver - leading the nation in receptions (105), receiving yards (1,641), and touchdown catches (20). He always seems to come up clutch in the biggest moments on the biggest of stages. And he is a big reason why the undefeated Crimson Tide are SEC champs and the favorite to bring home the national title. Mac Jones certainly deserves a lot of credit for Alabama’s success as well. However, I’m not sure Jones would be a Heisman finalist without Smith. In my opinion, Smith has the most complete resume and is the most deserving finalist.
Jon Kinne (@JonRKinne)
As good as Mac Jones and Najee Harris have been for the Crimson Tide this season, DeVonta Smith is the player that clearly stood out. Simply pulling in 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns over 12 games is ridiculous enough. But add in the fact that after Jaylen Waddle was injured in the Tennessee game, Smith became the primary focus for every opposing defense.
It didn't matter. The only team that seemed to keep the senior from Amite, Louisiana, in check from a receiving perspective was Arkansas, but he did have an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown in that game. Which brings us to special teams. Smith averaged a whopping 24.3 yards per punt return and if you take out that one long one from the Arkansas game, he still had a 17-yard average on the other returns.
So on a team filled with offensive firepower, Smith is the scariest weapon and should be the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner.
Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich)
From the list of finalists, I would vote for DeVonta Smith as the Heisman Trophy winner. Smith’s performance in the JerryWorld Rose Bowl demonstrated his playmaking abilities for a national television audience, and Smith should be the first Alabama winner as a wide receiver.