MIAMI — For Alabama senior wide receiver DeVonta Smith, it was always about so much more than Second and 26.
After his game-winning catch against Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Smith was immediately focused on moving on from the moment. Other players would have relished in the glory, a shining moment in the spotlight that garnered recognition.
But not Smith.
In fact, Smith never wanted to be remembered for just that single moment.
“That’s just me as a person, I’ve always been that type of person, I don’t want to be known for doing one thing,” Smith said following the 2018 season. “Last year helped me a lot just get past that.”
Following a disappointing 2019 season that resulted in the Crimson Tide missing the CFP for the first time in program history, Smith announced — albeit quietly — that he would be making his return. Along with him came running back Najee Harris and offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood, each citing 'unfinished business' as their collective reason to return.
In 2020, Smith made history. Not only did he acquire Alabama football's third Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, acquire both the AP and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards and the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver, but he also did something that as of early July many thought wouldn't even be possible:
Smith won a national title.
On Monday night in Hard Rock Stadium, Smith and his teammates completed their unfinished business. Surrounded by members of a 2017 recruiting class that has bookended their time at Alabama with national titles — a class that many consider to be the greatest signing class in college football history — Smith and his team accomplished its goal.
"Well, we had a mission," Smith said following the game. "Everybody wanted to end things the right way. We just all came to work every day and just put in the work. We got the result that we wanted."
In the first half alone, Smith tallied 12 receptions for 215 yards and three touchdowns. The receptions and the touchdowns are both new national championship records for a receiver, and his 215 yards was just seven yards short of that record.
Let me remind you once again that those are his numbers from the first half.
While Smith never returned to the game after exiting early in the third quarter due to a dislocated finger, he had already cemented himself as the offensive player of the game.
Dislocated finger aside, Alabama coach Nick Saban made it very clear that had Smith come back, he would have increased his stats to even higher numbers.
"He's a great competitor," Saban said. "I heard somebody say he set some kind of record in the first half of the game. Heavens knows what he would have done if he played the whole game.
"But you're talking about the ultimate warrior, ultimate competitor. I'm so happy for him that he was recognized as the best player in college football because I don't think anybody's done more for their team than he has for our team."
While his personal performance in the game might not have ended how he would have liked, there is no doubt that Smith was happy with the end results — Alabama's 18th overall national title.
Smith will always be remembered for Second and 26, but also so much more. His quiet demeanor coupled with his humble nature, serving as a disguise hiding an incredible athlete underneath will always be remembered. His focus on his team and its goals rather than his own — no one will ever forget that.
The greatest wide receiver in Alabama football history? Well, when you look at his numbers, there certainly are a lot to make that case.
And when the man himself was asked about his legacy at Alabama? Even when prompted to talk about himself and his accomplishments, Smith once again directed the praise towards his teammates, his coaches, and God.
"I wouldn't be able to do none of this without my teammates or without God," Smith said. "Just come here, I just put in the work every day no matter what the situation was, just believing in my coaches and them putting me in the right situations just to make plays."