Nick Saban’s tenure at Alabama has reached the point where his current superstars are breaking records set by his former superstars.
As the Crimson Tide routed Kentucky, 63-3, wideout DeVonta Smith set the SEC all-time record for receiver touchdowns with his 33rd on Saturday.
FOX College Football @CFBONFOX
RECEIVING KING 👑
@AlabamaFTBL WR @DeVontaSmith_6 has more receiving TDs than any other player in @SEC history 🔥🐘 https://t.co/pTKUIhyuxB
The mark edges him past former Florida Gator Chris Doering and Alabama star Amari Cooper.
Smith finished the day with nine catches for 144 yards and two scores—the first breaking the record and the second, with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, tightening Smith’s grip on SEC history.
SEC Network @SECNetwork
Career TD catch No. 3️⃣2️⃣ for DeVonta Smith.
This one was for the record books. https://t.co/GM5pfHGxmh
After tallying 14 touchdowns in 2019 as a junior, Smith has 11 total scores already this season with two games left on the schedule before the postseason.
While both Smith and Doering needed four years to reach the 30-touchdown mark in their college careers, Cooper was able to tie the record with 31 scores in three seasons before he left for the NFL. The current Dallas Cowboys star was selected No. 4 overall by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2015. Cooper has since earned four Pro Bowl nods in six years in the NFL.
A similar fate could await Smith.
The Louisiana native is currently projected as a first-round pick with B/R’s Matt Miller mocking him to the Cleveland Browns at No. 20 overall:
“DeVonta Smith has some of the best hands in college football and plays much bigger than his 6’1″ frame while being a dynamic and smooth route-runner with excellent timing and vision in his route tree. Smith is the type of possession receiver the Browns need for Baker Mayfield on underneath and intermediate routes, as he has the catch radius to extend Mayfield’s accuracy and enough speed to be a big-play weapon after the catch.”
Whatever happens in the NFL, Smith’s legacy is secure in the SEC.
Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith set an SEC record on Saturday when he hauled in his 32nd career touchdown reception in the No. 1 Crimson Tide’s game against Kentucky. Smith’s 10-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Mac Jones put Alabama ahead 14-3 in the second quarter, and pushed him past former Florida receiver Chris Doering and former Alabama star Amari Cooper in the league’s record books.
The senior from Amite, Louisiana, entered Saturday’s game as Alabama’s leading receiver on the season with 56 receptions for 759 and eight touchdowns after choosing to spurn the NFL Draft and return for his senior season.
Smith’s ascension to the top of the league record books is especially impressive considering that he entered his junior season last year with just nine career touchdown catches. But Smith exploded onto the scene for the Crimson Tide last year with 14 touchdown receptions to establish himself as one of the top receivers in the country entering the 2020 season. Alabama has become especially reliant on Smith this season since fellow star receiver Jaylen Waddle was likely lost for the season with injury against Tennessee on Oct. 24.
Though Smith would almost certainly have been selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, he explained in January why he wanted to return for another season.
“While I’ve achieved a lot on the field,” Smith wrote, “I understand that football isn’t forever. I have to prepare myself for life after the game and the first step to doing that is getting my degree.”