Amite native DeVonta Smith landslide winner of 2020 Heisman Trophy

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DeVonta Smith
Amite High alum 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 of Louisiana (Photo: Kent Gidley).

Alabama wide receiver and Amite native DeVonta Smith became the third player from a Louisiana high school to win the Heisman Trophy Tuesday night.

Smith – who has 105 receptions for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns in 12 games this season – joins 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.

“Honestly, I never just have thought about (winning the Heisman),” Smith said at a post-ceremony news conference. “I’ve had conversations, seen people send me things about it and I kind of brushed it off, but I honestly I never sat up there and honestly just thought about I could possibly win it.”

In a different Heisman ceremony, with the four finalists on their home campuses and the award announced from ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut, Smith shared his gratitude with many in becoming the first wide receiver to win the Heisman since Desmond Howard in 1991.

“I want to thank my family … everything that y’all taught me to mold me into the young man I am today,” Smith said. “I want to thank Coach (Nick) Saban for giving me the opportunity to come play at the University of Alabama. I thank Coach (Holmon) Wiggins, my receiver coach, just for helping me day in and day out, watching film, making me a better player.

“I thank my teammates. With team success comes individual success, so without y’all, I wouldn’t be where I am today, winning this award.”

He saved perhaps his best remarks for those who are looking up to him as he joins the greatest fraternity in college football.

“To all the young kids out there that (are) not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing because I’m not the biggest. I’ve been doubted a lot just because of my size, and really it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it.

“No job is too big. If you put your mind to it, you can do it, and just keep believing in God, and you’ll get where you want to be.”

DeVonta Smith
(Photo: Kent Gidley)

A crowd gathered at the community center in Amite City to watch the presentation.

“Seeing the people back at home, it kind of hit me hard,” Smith said in the news conference. “I kind of wanted to cry, but I stayed strong. Just to see the support of the people that was there has meant a lot to me.

“Some of those people have seen me since I was a little kid playing youth football, youth basketball, just seeing me come up, and just they’ve been there every step of the way, even when I decided to come here. Some of them, they still decided to just follow my journey and just be there with me every step of the way.

“The place where I come from … not a lot of people know about it. (I just want to be) someone giving their kids something, someone to look up to and laying the blueprint out for everybody that’s coming up after me.”

Smith captured 447 first-place votes, 221 second-place votes and 73 third-place votes for a total of 1,856 points, nearly 700 more than second-place finisher Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, who had 1,187 points. Smith’s teammate, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, was third with 1,130 points, and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask was fourth with 737 points.

Smith, who was named on nearly 80 percent of the 903 ballots cast, had more than twice as many as Lawrence, who had 222 first-place votes. Smith also swept all six regions of the voting.

With Tuesday’s ceremony in the rear-view mirror, the focus shifts to Monday night’s College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State.

“I kind of feel relieved just that it’s over with now,” said Smith. “I can just focus on this last game. But it feels great just to hear my name called to win this award.

“The two main reasons I came back was to get my degree and to win another National Championship,” added Smith, who caught the winning touchdown pass as a freshman to defeat Georgia in overtime. “So I’ve checked one box (the degree); I’m just trying to check the other one now.”

Smith is the 15th Louisiana native to finish in the top 10 of Heisman voting.

Louisiana natives and the Heisman Trophy
DeVonta Smith, Amite/Alabama – 2020 winner
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

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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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