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Alabama Football Impact Players

Alabama freshman WR Devonta Smith seals national title with game-winning catch

Mark J. Rebilas - USA TODAY Sports

University of Alabama football head coach Nick Saban knew he signed a special class of wide receivers in 2017, but seeing how the College Football Playoff National Championship Game ended, it is confirmed that this group stands to arguably be the best of his tenure. 

Of the five weapons signed, two of them brought in touchdown receptions from freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa – including one for a game-winning score versus Georgia. 

Reflecting back to the Crimson Tide’s open practice last August, senior wide receiver Cam Sims spoke with yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine about four-star Louisiana native, Devonta Smith.

After raving about his hands, speed, route running capabilities and clutch mentality, I was able to see it all unfold for myself during a session of drills in the press box. 

His touchdown catch against Vanderbilt was nice, but what sold me on Smith was watching him account for the deciding score against Mississippi State on the road. Upon the end of that moment, the audio on him being a star was unleased on In My Own Words – a TDAM podcast. 

Despite an interception and taking a sack in overtime, Saban rolled the dice with Tagovailoa in the game on second down with long yardage to pick up.

As the smallest target of the five receivers, Smith (165 pounds) burned his defender on a go route and brought in a 41-yard touchdown reception on the second play of Alabama’s overtime possession, to propel the institution to a 26-23 victory and its fifth national title under Saban (second of CFP era). 

Just like Mississippi State, all Smith needed one catch to make a difference.  

He returned on the biggest stage in college football, and for a team that had endured a multitude of injuries on defense, the 6-foot-1 giant killer delivered it to a 17th national championship. 

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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