Most people remember Tua Tagovailoa if you ask them about the 2018 CFP National Championship. That night, the current Miami Dolphin quarterback’s epic throw in the fourth quarter helped the Alabama Crimson Tide down the Georgia Bulldogs, 26-23.
On a team loaded with receiver talent like Calvin Ridley, Robert Foster and Jerry Jeudy, the guy that pulled down Tagovailoa’s magical pass was a freshman named DeVonta Smith. Three years later, he’d pull in the Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding player in college football.
Could the New York Giants end up nabbing the big-play Smith in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft? It’s a possibility with the Giants holding the 11th overall pick.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Smith going at 7th overall. Todd McShay has him landing at 8th. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks has Smith going at 19th.
Ready to play wherever, whenever
It doesn’t seem like Smith has any preference over where he goes or where he plays on the field.
“I’m a receiver that can play anywhere... just whatever the team needs me to do,” Smith told reporters Monday.
Most of the past few weeks have been filled with Zoom interviews between prospects like Smith and NFL teams. It’s not hard to imagine a 22-year-old getting a little nervous, but it didn’t seem to faze Smith.
“The meetings have been going good, just getting in there and talking football. You get to know some of the coaches,” said Smith. “It’s not nothing that you really have to worry about. You just go in and be yourself. At the end of the day, you’re talking football... So it just feels like another day in the meeting room at Alabama.”
For now, that might be all the Giants brass will be able to glean from Smith.
Smith revealed his weight Monday, 170 pounds, and declined to participate in Alabama’s pro day on Tuesday other than to let NFL scouts verify that number with a weigh-in.
That 170-pound frame doesn’t seem to concern Smith when he was asked how he’ll adapt his game to the NFL.
“I’m not worried about it at all,” said Smith. “I feel like it’s not going to be no different than college. I played against some of the best in college. I played in the SEC. I feel like that’s the toughest conference there is. I know lot of people that’s bigger than me and have more problems than me.”
‘Won’t be stopped’ mentality
Smith won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s top player last year, hauling in 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns as Crimson Tide QB Mac Jones’ top target in a national championship season.
He’s certainly been showing the part of a hungry young receiver in interviews, telling reporters “I just won’t be stopped.”
“No matter who it is in front of me, I’m going to approach every game and every person that lines up in front of me the same. Me just knowing that I really don’t care who’s in front of me, I’m going to approach everything the same way,” Smith.
“I haven’t came this far to just stop. The journey isn’t over,” he added. “There’s been a lot of people saying that I’m not supposed to be here.”
Several of the questions directed at Smith on Monday were directed at his mindset after achieving so much at Alabama, including the Heisman and two National Championships in four years.
Smith assured everyone that he didn’t get to where he is by being cocky. He said his parents, back in tiny Amite City, La., about 75 miles north of New Orleans, didn’t raise him that way.
“That’s just the person that I am and that’s how my parents are. Quiet people. Very humble and just hard working. They rubbed off on me a lot,” said Smith.
And with all the accolades, Smith understands that there will be pressures. Still, the pass-catcher maintained that it won’t affect him too much.
“I feel like it’s an expectation with everybody that wins the Heisman. Everybody expects you to do this and that. I have my individual goals and things like that I expect to accomplish. So really just doing the things that I’m capable of doing and just letting everything else work out for itself,” said Smith.
What about you Giants fans? Is Smith a no-brainer decision for Dave Gettleman and company?