Amite native DeVonta Smith favored to join select club of Louisiana Heisman winners

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Derek Stingley vs. Devonta Smith
(Photo: Terrill Weil)

As of 13 months ago, only two of the 83 members of a very select college football fraternity had either high school or college ties to Louisiana.

By later Tuesday night, that number is expected to double.

One year after LSU’s Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy, Amite native and University of Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith is the favorite to take home the 2020 award. It will be presented in a virtual ceremony Tuesday night on ESPN.

Smith is one of four finalists for the award and the only non-quarterback in the group. The other three finalists are his teammate, Mac Jones; Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, and Kyle Trask of Florida.

Smith was asked about the possibility of winning the award during a pre-national championship news conference on Monday.

“Right now,” he said, “I’m not really worried about the Heisman Trophy. I’m just trying to come in with the team this weekend, just look forward to getting on to the game plan for Ohio State.”

Smith – who has 105 receptions for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns in 12 games entering next Monday’s College Football Playoff national championship game against the Buckeyes – would be only the fourth wide receiver to win the Heisman and the first since Desmond Howard in 1991.

“The person that goes out and just puts in the work, they’re going to get the things that they deserve,” Smith said in response to question about representing wide receivers. “So if you work for things you’re going to get the things that you deserve.”

Smith is assured of being the 15th Louisiana native to finish in the top 10 of Heisman voting, and if he is indeed the winner, he would join Springhill’s John David Crow, the 1957 winner for Texas A&M, and Billy Cannon of Istrouma, the 1959 winner at LSU, as Heisman winners who played high school football in the state.

No player from metro New Orleans has won before, though three have just missed – Peyton Manning in 1997, Marshall Faulk in 1992 and Hank Lauricella in 1951 all finished as the runner-up. In the last decade, a pair of St. Augustine graduates at LSU, Tyrann Mathieu and Leonard Fournette, each finished in the top six.

“Every year that he’s been in college, he’s gotten better,” Amite head coach Zephaniah Powell said last  month. “I’m not trying to sound biased, but he is (the best receiver in college football).”

Tuesday night, he might be named the best PLAYER in college football.

Louisiana natives and the Heisman Trophy
Travis Etienne, Jennings/Clemson – 2019, 9th; 2018, 7th
Leonard Fournette, St. Augustine/LSU – 2015, 6th
Tyrann Mathieu, St. Augustine/LSU – 2011, 5th
Glenn Dorsey, East Ascension/LSU – 2007, 9th
Eli Manning, Newman/Ole Miss – 2003, 3rd
Peyton Manning, Newman/Tennessee – 1997, 2nd; 1996, 8th; 1995, 6th
Warrick Dunn, Catholic-BR/Florida State – 1996, 5th; 1995, 9th
Marshall Faulk, Carver/San Diego State – 1993, 4th; 1992, 2nd; 1991, 9th
Doug Williams, Chaneyville/Grambling State – 1977, 4th
Bert Jones, Ruston/LSU – 1972, 4th
Jerry Stovall, West Monroe/LSU – 1962, 2nd
Billy Cannon, Istrouma/LSU – 1959 winner; 1958, 3rd
John David Crow, Springhill/Texas A&M – 1957 winner
Hank Lauricella, Holy Cross/Tennessee – 1951, 2nd

Other Louisiana collegians
Joe Burrow, LSU – 2019 winner
Tim Rattay, LA Tech – 1999, 10th
Shaun King, Tulane – 1998, 10th
Charles Alexander, LSU – 1978, 5th; 1977, 9th

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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