College Football Playoff championship game, Ohio State can either be the team that contains him well enough to topple the Crimson Tide and hoist a trophy, or simply be the next victim for the likely winner of the Heisman Trophy when it is presented virtually on Tuesday night.
In the tradition-rich Alabama football program that has become a factory of NFL-caliber receivers under coach Nick Saban, Smith will statistically finish his college career as the best and stands as arguably the biggest challenge defensively for Ohio State in pursuit of a national title.
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“I’m not really worried about the Heisman Trophy,” Smith said during a Monday conference call. “I’m just trying to come in with the team this weekend, just looking forward to getting onto the game plan for Ohio State.”
Against Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl last week, Smith opened the scoring by blazing past the Irish secondary for the first of his three touchdowns on seven receptions for 130 yards.
While he was a significant part of the offense before wideout Jaylen Waddle suffered an ankle injury against Tennessee that has sidelined him since late October, Smith undoubtedly has answered the call with 17 touchdowns and averaging 155 yards in his past seven games without Waddle.
AL.com reported that Waddle is expected to return to practice for Alabama on Tuesday.
“Just me being the competitor that I am, I want to just do whatever I can to help the team and that’s what it came down to (when Waddle got injured),” Smith said. “Just everybody on offense felt like they could do more to help the team, and that’s what we’ve all been trying to do.”
After Tuesday, Smith might have an extra trophy to carry into Hard Rock Stadium against the Buckeyes. But it’s a different trophy that Smith wants, one he didn’t have in the 2018 season, the last time the Crimson Tide was in the title game (and lost to Clemson).
“The past is the past,” Smith said. “Nothing we can do about it now and we’re just focusing on this week and how we prepare for this game and just make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”