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The Heisman Trophy Has a Surprise Favorite: a Wide Receiver

  • January 05, 2021

DeVonta Smith of Alabama is a big favorite. That’s notable because he plays wide receiver.

The Heisman has recently gone almost exclusively to quarterbacks — 17 times in the last 20 years. In the other three years, the award went to running backs. The last receiver to win was in 1991: Desmond Howard of Michigan. Howard is now 50 years old.

Tim Brown of Notre Dame in 1987 and Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska in 1972 are the only other wide receivers to win the award, which dates to 1935.

Smith has caught 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Like Lawrence, he is a surefire top-five pick in the N.F.L. draft.

Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who was on the passing end of most of Smith’s yards and touchdowns, is also a finalist, and their Crimson Tide teammate Najee Harris, a running back, finished fifth in the voting by news media members and previous winners.

Only Ohio State in 1973 (John Hicks, Archie Griffin and Randy Gradishar) and Army in 1946 (Glenn Davis, Doc Blanchard and Arnie Tucker) have matched that feat.

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