No wide receiver had captured the Heisman Trophy since 1991 until DeVonta Smith earned the latest college football award during a virtual ceremony held Tuesday. The Alabama Crimson Tide senior intruded on territory typically belonging to quarterbacks, and the early betting line suggests that a QB will walk away with the hardware following the 2021 season.
Interestingly, one of the favorites or the 2021 Heisman Trophy has barely gotten his feet wet in college football, having thrown just 117 passes in his career.
DeVonta Smith ended a Heisman Trophy dry spell for receivers
Smith collected 447 first-place votes and 1,856 points in easily outdistancing Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson quarterback picked up 222 first-place votes and 1,187 points. Quarterbacks Mac Jones of Alabama and Kyle Trask of Florida finished third and fourth, respectively.
Smith, who’ll appear in the College Football Playoff championship game against Ohio State scheduled for Jan. 11, leads the FBS with 105 catches, 1,641 yards, and 20 touchdown receptions. He has also run for a touchdown and returned a punt for another score.
Quarterbacks typically dominate on awards night
Before DeVonta Smith of Alabama accepted the Heisman Trophy during the annual presentation on Jan. 5, 2021, quarterbacks had won the top college football award in 17 of the previous 20 seasons. Running backs Reggie Bush (USC, 2005), Mark Ingram Jr. (Alabama, 2009), and Derrick Henry (Alabama, 2015) were the exceptions. Bush’s selection was later vacated.
The four most recent Heisman winners are all now quarterbacks in the NFL:
- Lamar Jackson, Louisville, 2016
- Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, 2017
- Kyler Murray, Oklahoma, 2018
- Joe Burrow, LSU, 2019
The 2020 season began with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence widely regarded as the Heisman favorite. Lawrence finished his season with 3,153 yards and 24 touchdown passes in 10 games, but he missed a pair of mid-season contests following a COVID-19 diagnosis. Lawrence was replaced by freshman D.J. Uiagalelei, who appeared in parts of nine games.
Uiagalelei, whose name will get mentioned once the hype for the 2021 Heisman Trophy starts, replaced Lawrence against Boston College and Notre Dame, going a combined 59 of 85 for 781 yards and four touchdowns.
Who are the favorites to win the 2021 Heisman Trophy?
With one game left in the current season and several star underclassmen still deciding on whether to declare for the NFL draft in April, there is already a betting line on favorites for the 2021 Heisman Trophy. Not surprisingly, the leading candidates cited by online sportsbook MyBookie are quarterbacks.
Leading the list is Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler, who completed 214 of 217 attempts for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns in his redshirt freshman season. The website lists Rattler’s odds at +450 (wager $100 to net $450). Right behind him are North Carolina’s Sam Howell (+550) and Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei (+600).
Howell is a two-year starter who was 237 of 348 for 3,586 yards and 30 TDs this past fall. Uiagalelei completed 78 of 117 attempts as Trevor Lawrence’s backup. He finished with 914 yards and five touchdowns.
Rounding out the top five are quarterbacks Kedon Slovis of USC (+700) and D’Eriq King of Miami (+1,000).
At DraftKings Sportsbook, Spencer Rattler is rated first at +300. Interestingly, DraftKings’ No. 2 pick is Alabama freshman quarterback Bryce Young, despite the fact that he threw just four passes while backing up Jones.
Sportsline’s early odds have Rattler first and Uiagalelei second.