Perhaps the receiver with the most expectations this season on the Alabama football roster is junior All-American Jerry Jeudy. However, the one player who continues to prove capable of ascending his game through the season’s first three weeks is fellow junior DeVonta Smith.
When he first came out of Amite High School (La.), Smith weighed in the 157-pound range. While he has put on some pounds to add to his slender frame, he still hovers around the 175-pound mark. Surprisingly, it is his penchant for going across the middle of the field that draws high marks. But when asked about whether or not his heart starts to beat a little bit faster when going across the middle with linebackers and safeties coming across at him prior to the team’s 2018 contest versus Ole Miss by AL.com, Smith had the perfect response.
“No. Not at all,” Smith responded matter of factly.
The greatest thrill of his career up until this point may be his game-winning touchdown catch in the 2018 College Football Playoff national championship game against Georgia. In an offense that often utilizes four or five wide receivers/tight ends, the opportunities are limited. It is a fact not lost upon Smith.
“No matter who it is, which one of us gets it we can all make the same play,” Smith told AL.com back in 2018. “When a play is called, you never know whether you’re going to get it or not. You just wait for the quarterback to throw it.”
Smith vs. South Carolina, 9-13-19: In-game report
Despite improved bulk from his prep level days, Smith's strength is still a bit of a question mark. In Saturday's game against South Carolina (9-14-19), Gamecocks CB Jaycee Horn raked a ball out of his hands on a slant route that resulted in a pass deflection. Although he contains a deft drop-step speed release, defensive backs do lean their frames on him at times on his inside releases versus press-man.
Last Saturday's contest against South Carolina flashed Smith's slippery skills after the catch. On a couple of his receptions, he used one-step cuts to get initial room from CB Jaycee Horn. Then, on a quick post/slant concept in the third quarter (9:42 mark), he used a slick sidestep to elude South Carolina safety J.T. Ibe in the middle of the field. The result? A 42-yard touchdown reception.
Smith's ball skills and arm length (pictured here versus Georgia DB Richard LeCounte in the 2018 SEC championship game) both stand out. On Saturday in Columbia, however, his eight-catch, 136-yard, two-touchdown day may have hidden his best catch of the afternoon. At the 13:20 mark of the second quarter, he made one of his textbook leaping grabs over the top of South Carolina CB Israel Mukuamu, who stands 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. It was an example of the talent Smith possesses when adjusting to the ball in the air.
Most locksmiths specialize in rekeying, repairing, opening and modifying. Some numbers have meaning in the process, while others do not. It fits perfectly with what Smith communicated to AL.com when asked about whether he had accumulated the most receptions on the squad through Week 2 of the 2018 campaign.
“I don’t keep up with stats.”