Louisiana’s top recruit is leaving the state to play college football. Five-star wide receiver Devonta Smith announced Wednesday that he’ll play for Alabama, picking the Crimson Tide over finalists LSU and Miami.
Alabama and LSU were viewed as the favorites to sign Smith, especially after he didn’t take a planned visit to Coral Gables the weekend before National Signing Day. However, the departure of Crimson Tide wide receivers coach Billy Napier to become Arizona State’s offensive coordinator in late January cast doubt over Alabama’s wide receiver recruiting efforts late in this cycle.
The Crimson Tide had already landed two esteemed wideouts in the class of 2017, four-star Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High standout Jerry Jeudy and four-star Lewisville (Texas) High product Tyrell Shavers, but Smith was a key target at the position, in addition to Robert E. Lee (Ala.) High product Henry Ruggs III.
Alabama managed to add both on Wednesday. Of the two prospects, Smith is more highly regarded, thanks in part to his hands, ability to elude defenders after the catch and capacity to beat defensive backs for deep balls downfield. Scout.com rates him the No. 3 wide receiver and No. 26 recruit overall in the class of 2017. As a senior at Amite High Magnet School this season, Smith recorded 1,160 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns and was invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7.
Smith's decision rounds out a staggering collection of talent at one position group in the Crimson Tide's recruiting class. Alabama may be losing three of its top four pass-catchers in wide receivers Ardarius Stewart and Gehrig Dieter and tight end O.J. Howard, but it's bringing in a quartet of dynamic playmakers capable of contributing from the jump. Plus, the Crimson Tide return one of the nation's top wideouts in Calvin Ridley.
Smith initially committed to Georgia in August 2015, but he reopened his recruitment the following January after the Bulldogs parted ways with former coach Mark Richt and hired former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to replace him. Smith eventually settled on another program in the SEC, albeit in a different division.
Here is Scout.com’s full scouting report on Smith:
A smooth wide receiver who plays fast. He gets off the ball quick and really sets up defenders well. He is explosive on the football field. He catches the ball well and knows how to make adjustments on the ball. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he is elusive in the open field. He is on the lean side, so he needs to get stronger, add mass to his frame and start to fill out, but that will come. He constantly runs away from defenders. He really knows how to stick his foot in the ground and shoot out of his breaks when running routes. Overall, he is a dynamic playmaker. He knows how to make big play after big play.