Devonta Smith won the 2020 Heisman Trophy, becoming the first WR since Desmond Howard in 1991 to win an award that has become very QB-friendly.
Smith finished the season with 105 catches, 1,641 yards and 20 receiving touchdowns. Yet, you could argue that he wasn’t even Alabama’s best wide receiver at that start of the season. That distinction might belong to Jaylen Waddle, who was lost during the 4th game to an injured ankle.
Alabama has a long history of producing wide receivers in the NFL. Smith and Waddle will both be first round draft picks in the 2021 Draft.
This article looks at the last 5 wide receivers drafted in the first round, all of whom have experience playing in National Championship Games.
Drafted #6 in 2011
Jones played for Alabama from 2008-2010, playing 40 games. Only 1 of his 179 career catches came in the 2009 BCS Championship Game against Texas. Alabama won 37-21. The Tide ran for over 200 yards and QB Greg McElroy completed just 6 passes. Jones did have the longest catch for Alabama, with a long of 23 yards, which accounted for almost half of McElroy’s 58 yards.
In 2008, Jones caught 7 passes for 77 yards in a Sugar Bowl loss to Utah and in 2010, caught 3 passes for 49 yards in a Capital One Bowl win over Michigan State.
Drafted #26 in 2018
Ridley played 44 games between 2015-2017, including 3 straight National Championships. Ridley caught 60+ passes, for 760+ yards, and 5+ TDs in each of his three seasons.
In all three Championship Games, Ridley led Alabama in catches, but was held to under 10 yards per catch.
- 2015 – 6 catches, 14 yards in a 45-40 win over Clemson
- 2016 – 5 catches, 36 yards in 35-31 loss to Clemson
- 2017 – 4 catches, 32 yards, TD in 36-23 win over Georgia
Drafted #4 in 2015
From 2012-2014, Cooper was a star. Entering 2020, Cooper was the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,463) and touchdowns (31) until Devonta Smith’s season happened.
As a freshman in 2012, Cooper was a star in a 42-14 BCS Championship Game win over Notre Dame. Cooper had 6 catches, for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Not a championship, but worth noting Cooper’s career ended in the Playoffs in the last game between Alabama and Ohio State. Cooper had 9 catches for 71 yards and 2 TDs, but it wasn’t enough and Alabama lost to the eventual champions, 42-35.
Drafted #15 in 2020
Jeudy (2017-2019) played in the Championship Game his first two seasons, before ending his career in the Citrus Bowl in 2019.
In the 26-23 Championship win over Georgia, Jeudy had one, 20 yard catch.
To end the 2018 season,. Alabama got torched in the Championship against Clemson, losing 44-16. Before the route started, Jeudy scored a 62 yard touchdown on Alabama’s first possession of the game. He finished with 5 catches for 139 yards and that one touchdown.
Drafted #12 in 2020
Ruggs followed the same path as Jeudy, playing at Alabama from 2017-2019, before both were drafted in the first round of the 2020 draft.
Against Georgia at the end of the 2017 season, 9 Tide players caught a pass and Ruggs was one of four with multiple catches. Ruggs caught 3 passes for 29 yards and Tua Tagovailoa’s first (of 3) second half touchdowns.
Ruggs was a non-factor that following year in the Clemson blowout, catching one three yard pass.