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Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith served notice of his greatness early on in his career, much to Georgia's chagrin, against the Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff Championship Game.

Alabama WR DeVonta Smith wins Heisman Trophy; how Kirby Smart endorsed him

Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith was named the Heisman Trophy winner during a virtual ceremony televised by ESPN on Tuesday night.

Smith is the fourth receiver to win the award in its history, and the first since former Michigan receiver and current ESPN College GameDay host Desmond Howard won the award in 1991.

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart recently said Smith would have been his choice if he had a Heisman Trophy vote. It’s easy to understand why.

Smith first served national notice of his greatness as a freshman in 2017 in the College Football Playoff Championship Game against Georgia. It was Smith reeling in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa in overtime to lift the Tide to the 26-23 win.

Smith was a difference-maker against Georgia in Alabama’s come-from-behind 41-24 victory over the Bulldogs this season, too, catching 11 passes for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Say this for Smart, he’s gracious in defeat.

It was recently revealed that Smart voted Florida higher in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll (No. 4) than any other coach who voted.

RELATED Kirby boosts Florida ranking, Brian Kelly, Ed Orgeron bury Bulldogs

Smart provided a ringing endorsement for Smith on the “All Things Covered” podcast with Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden.

Smart seemed to catch everyone off guard when he was willing to answer who he would endorse for the Heisman Trophy.

“I usually wouldn’t answer that, but you know I’m not gonna be politically correct, and I’m gonna say who I think the best player is and everybody will know why I think he’s the best player, because of what he’s done against Georgia DeVonte Smith,” Smart said.

“This is a young man that I had in camp when he was in the eighth and ninth grade and I was at Alabama, where he weighed like 125. He was so small in eighth and ninth grade, and he was so talented, and by the time he got to be, maybe a junior or senior, he was like 155.

“At one time he was actually committed to Georgia, not many people remember that. (Then he) de-committed from Georgia and ends up going to Alabama. You know, won the national championship on the last play the game against us, and then played a phenomenal game against us this year.”

Smart pointed out the Bulldogs’ cornerbacks, Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell, actually provided pretty strong coverage and still couldn’t stop smith.

“You know, we had two good corners, draped all over them, you couldn’t ask them to cover him any better. He comes out of breaks better than anybody I’ve ever seen. He catches the ball going back to the quarterback, and to me, he’s the best player in college football.”

Smart constantly talks about the importance of receivers being able to contribute on special teams and in the run game, and those are two other areas where Smith won him over.

“He blocks on the perimeter. He does a lot of good things and the amazing thing to me, you know, people don’t talk about it, he had a choice to come out last year. Like, he could have come out and all these first-rounders, like it was a it was a wide receiver loaded draft if you go back and look.

“Jerry Jeudy, Ceedee Lamb, Henry Ruggs all these great wideouts. I want to say four or five guys went in the first. … If you look at all that and say this kid could have came out. He decided to come back to Alabama, and he may walk away with a Heisman Trophy. That is crazy to me.”

Georgia faced four fo the five top Heisman Trophy vote-getters this season, and each fared well against the Bulldogs:

• Smith 11 catches, 167 yards, 2 TDs

• Najee Harris 31 carries, 152 yards, 1 TD

• Mac Jones 24-32 passing, 417 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT

• Kyle Trask 30-43 passing, 474 yard, 4 TD, 1 INT

The Bulldogs open with Clemson next season, but the other Heisman Trophy finalist, Trevor Lawrence, is expected to declare himself eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Georgia hopes to have its own Heisman Trophy contenders next season.

Quarterback JT Daniels and tailback James Cook announced Tuesday they were returning for another season, and the Bulldogs also bring back standout receiver George Pickens.