Stoic as ever, DeVonta Smith had a new introduction before the CFP’s news conference Wednesday morning.
Now, and for the rest of his life, “Heisman Trophy winner” will precede his first and last name in ceremonial moments like this. After an emotional response to his Tuesday night win, Smith held his poker face and deflected any morning-after questions in the previously scheduled media session to preview Monday’s national title game.
He said the whole experience was great, “but now that’s in the past and now it’s on to Ohio State.”
And unlike a traditional Heisman win accompanied by a long night in Manhattan, Smith said he went home and “straight to sleep” after his historic night.
His Alabama teammates might have been a little more excited about the whole thing.
Quarterback Mac Jones, the third-place finisher, said Smith was “a little shocked” when his name was called during the ceremony.
“It’s like a video game, man,” Jones said. “You’re up there and you get to see your teammate win the Heisman Trophy and you feel like that’s just one of the coolest things that you can do, is have a chance to be with him, especially in kind of the crazy year that it’s been, and just be able to be the first guy to kind of congratulate him.”
Jones was taken by the reaction by friends in family watching remotely in Amite, Louisiana. The quarterback noted “the whole city was really in there” watching the broadcast with Smith’s parents.
Jones was sitting directly next to Smith at that moment while fellow receiver John Metchie was watching ESPN from home. His degree of surprise was somewhat lower.
“I had said it long ago that Smitty is the best player in college football this year,” Metchie said. “So definitely seeing him win was great. I’m extremely proud of him.”
Tight end Miller Forristall was in a unique position during the ceremony as a current or former teammate of three of the four finalists. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence was a high school teammate of his in Cartersville, Georgia.
Forristall said he describes Smith as a fighter “in the ultimate sense.” He continued to battle through everything that came his way and is a great teammate.
“That’s how I described him to my high school coach the other day,” Forristall said. “He asked me about DeVonta Smith. He wanted to know — it’s the same high school coach as Trevor Lawrence. He goes, Man, I want to root for Trevor, but tell me about this DeVonta Smith guy. I said he’s a great teammate and that is something sticks out to me, not only as a guy who is so incredibly talented and a great player, but also a great teammate.”
Smith can also hold a mean poker face.
He deflected any questions about the honor from the moment his Heisman stock began its upward rise.
Don’t let that look fool you, the Heisman has him more excited than he might lead on.
“Yeah, of course he is,” offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood said. “He’s uber excited about it. He’s grateful. But one thing about Smitty, he’s a great player, but he’s an even better teammate and person.”
Jones cracked a smile looking back on his time playing with his decorated teammate.
They were both a part of the heralded 2017 recruiting class, though neither were among the headliners. The two go back to the high school circuit when they first built the chemistry that made both legends in this unusual 2020 college football season.
Jones smiled looking back at how far they came to reach the stage as co-Heisman finalists.
“I think about camps and things like that,” Jones said. “Me and Smitty were the two skinniest guys out there throwing the ball to each other, so it kind of just started there. But he’s worked really hard and he deserves everything that’s came his way.”
Part of that is a new title, like Mr., or Coach. Starting Tuesday night, Smith will be “Heisman Trophy winner …” and his teammates love it.