Heisman trophy winner DeVonta Smith has nearly single-handedly dragged his Alabama side to a 52-24 win over Ohio State to throw a spanner in the works with the NFL Draft.
But his performance didn’t only have the football world buzzing with the likes of NBA legend LeBron James in awe of Smith’s play.
Watch the 2021 CFP National Championship: Alabama v Ohio State LIVE with ESPN on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Wide receiver Smith scored three touchdowns as the University of Alabama capped an undefeated season in the US college football national championship game.
Alabama notched their sixth national title under coach Nick Saban, who now has a record seven overall.
“This is a team that was always together,” Saban said of how his players responded to the difficulties of the pandemic-disrupted season.
“Everybody bought into the principles and values of the organisation and program,” Saban said. “And they just did a great job. They played together. They supported each other. This is a great team.”
The victory saw wild celebrations in the streets of Tuscaloosa, Alabama with fans on social media quick to share concern over the sheer number of people in close quarters.
It’s not the first time wild celebrations have drawn concern with the Lakers’ NBA victory attracting similar questions.
Alabama have had more than 400,000 cases of COVID but the last week has seen several days with more than 5000 new cases a day.
Tuscaloosa County has had more than 20,000 cases of COVID.
Tuscaloosa is the college town for the University of Alabama and comes after a season which saw players, coaches and staff undergoing daily antigen testing, while some of the biggest stars in the sport were sidelined by COVID.
But while Trevor Lawrence is expected to go first in the Draft and Ohio’s Justin Fields was believed to be in the box seat to go second, Smith’s insane game — and season — may force a rethink.
Smith was the first wide receiver since 1991 to win the Heisman Trophy which goes to the top college player in the country.
He had 12 catches for 215 yards in the first two quarters, when his 18 points were one more than the Buckeyes’ 17, and he out-gained Ohio State 215-190 yards.
The only thing that stopped him was an injured hand in the third quarter.
And yet he still broke the records for most receptions in a championship game with 12, most touchdowns with three, most yards in a half, the most yards in the two-game playoffs with 345 and six touchdowns in the playoffs.
It comes after he shattered records all season.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who was third in the Heisman voting, finished with 464 passing yards and five touchdowns.
“Unbelievable,” Smith said. “We just finished writing our story.”
Saban, who coached Louisiana State to the title in 2003, notched his sixth championship with Alabama and his third of the playoff era.
He had entered the contest tied with legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant for most titles of any college coach.
“I’m just happy that we won tonight,” he said. “I really haven’t thought about that (record) because you’re always looking forward.
“And I just love this team so much,” Saban added. “What they’ve been able to do, I can’t even put it into words.”
— with AFP