DeVonta Smith Re-Writes Record Books, Becomes SEC's All-Time Leader in Receiving Touchdowns
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Not only will he be known as the receiver who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, but now University of Alabama wideout DeVonta Smith can say no one in Crimson Tide and Southeastern Conference history has caught more touchdown passes than him.
On Saturday afternoon inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, No. 1 Alabama rolled to a 63-3 victory over a depleted Kentucky team that was missing multiple starters and other role players due to a combination of injuries and COVID-19 protocols.
The real story of the day came with 12:04 left in the second quarter, when Crimson Tide signal-caller Mac Jones threw a 10-yard touchdown strike to Smith to put the home team up 14-3.
That was Smith's 32nd touchdown reception of his career, which is a new Alabama and SEC record. He was previously tied with former Crimson Tide standout Amari Cooper and Florida great Chris Doering at 31.
"It's certainly a blessing just to have my name alongside the greats that have come through here and the SEC," Smith said postgame.
Smith finished the night with nine catches for 144 yards and two scores. It was the ninth time in his career that Amrite, La., native has eclipsed the century mark in a single game.
His second time in the end zone came with 1:42 left in the third quarter on a 18-yard throw from freshman quarterback Bryce Young, which was the first of his Alabama career.
"The pass from Bryce," Smith said. "I had no choice but to catch it. I turned around it was right there at my hip."
How about his punt return abilities, too?
Smith stepped in for Slade Bolden, who was already filling in for the hurt Jaylen Waddle and who twisted his ankle earlier in the game, to return all but one of the Wildcats' punts in the second half. His first attempt was the most dazzling.
When he fielded it, Smith reversed it across the field, showcasing his electric speed, for a 41-yard return which put Alabama deep inside Kentucky territory, ultimately resulting in a one-yard touchdown run from tailback Brian Robinson Jr.
As he continues to be a difference-maker in the passing game, he could do the same on special teams moving forward. It could come in handy as early as next week against Auburn.
Not only did Smith re-write the receiving touchdowns record against the Wildcats, he passed DJ Hall and moved into second place in all-time receiving yards.
He has 3,012 now, which only trails Cooper by 451. At this rate, he will surely break that, given Alabama can advance to the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff.
Smith also passed Julio Jones on the Crimson Tide's all-time receptions list. He is now in fourth place by himself at 183.
Thirty touchdowns after that epic grab against Georgia for a national title, it's time to start putting Smith near the top of greatest receivers in Alabama history conversation.
"I don't think there is anyone who holds up the core values of the program and reinforces those core values to our younger players better than Smitty does," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said. "First of all, he sets a great example. He has great work ethic. He's not afraid to take a guy one-on-one and talk about what they can do to improve and why we do some of the things we do here and how it can benefit them in the future.
"Smitty came back for his senior year because he wanted to have a great, productive year. He wanted to get a little bit bigger, a little big stronger, and improve his draft status and I think he is really demonstrating that in a really positive way so far this season."