Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, the Associated Press college football player of the year, is trying to become the first receiver to win the Heisman since 1991. He has 98 catches for 1,511 yards and has scored 19 touchdowns. Richard Shiro/Associated Press


DeVonta Smith of Alabama is The Associated Press college football player of the year and the first wide receiver to win the award since it was established in 1998.

In what could be a preview of the Heisman Trophy voting, Smith received 26 first-place votes and 114 points to finish comfortably ahead of his teammate and quarterback, Mac Jones.

Jones received nine first-place votes and 67 points as he and Smith became the first teammates to finish 1-2 in the voting for AP player of the year.

Smith is also the first Alabama player to win the award.

“Probably one of the most selfless guys that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach in terms of whatever he can do to help the team he wants to do,” Tide coach NIck Saban said. “The guy is one of the most popular guys on the team and also one of the leaders of the team that everybody looks up to because of the example that he sets every day and how he goes about his work.”

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence finished third with nine first-place votes and 49 points and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask was fourth with three first-place votes and 44 points.

Smith, Jones, Lawrence and Trask are the Heisman Trophy finalists. The trophy will be presented Jan. 5.

The AP player of the year has gone to the Heisman winner 17 of 22 times previously. The two most recent times when the AP player of the year and the Heisman went to different players involved Alabama’s Heisman winners.

In 2009, Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram won the Heisman in one of the closest votes in the history of the award, but Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh was AP player of the year.

Derrick Henry won the 2015 Heisman for the Tide, but Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey was AP player of the year.

Like the Heisman, quarterbacks have dominated the AP player of the year, with 17 QBs winning the award, along with four running backs.

Smith, who is trying to become the first receiver to win the Heisman since 1991, has 98 catches for 1,511 yards and has scored 19 touchdowns.

ILLINOIS: Quarterback Brandon Peters will return for a third season with the Illini and play for new coach Bret Bielema, the team announced Tuesday.

Peters spent three years at Michigan before joining Illinois in 2019 and made a big impact that season, throwing for 1,884 yards and 18 touchdowns while running for 213 yards and three scores. The Illini stunned then-No. 6 Wisconsin on the way to a 6-7 record and their first bowl appearance since 2014.

But they took a step back this season, going 2-6.

Peters missed three games as a senior because of a positive COVID-19 test. He made five starts, throwing for 429 yards and three touchdowns and running for 136 yards and a score.

USC: Offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker is headed to the NFL draft. The left tackle, a fourth-year junior this season, opted out of the 2020 season in September when the Pac-12 delayed its start, but opted back in before the Trojans began play. He was a guard in 2019, but moved to left tackle this season.

Vera-Tucker is expected to be among the top offensive line prospects in the upcoming draft.

BUFFALO: Running back Jaret Patterson is foregoing his senior year by declaring for the NFL draft following a season in which he matched several national records.

Patterson announced the decision on his Twitter account five days after Buffalo (6-1) completed its season with a 17-10 win over Marshall in the Camellia Bowl.

The decision does not come as a surprise after Patterson reversed course and elected to not play against Marshall a few days before the game. Patterson sat out rather than risk aggravating an injury to his right knee sustained in Buffalo’s loss to Ball State in the Mid-American Conference championship game on Dec. 18.

Patterson this week joined current Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack in becoming the Bulls’ second player to earn All-America honors. He was selected to the second team.

In six games, the 21-year-old from Maryland led the nation with 178.7 yards rushing per outing and finished with 1,072 yards. He matched his school record from 2019 with 19 touchdowns rushing.

CHEEZ-IT-BOWL: Spencer Sanders threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns, and Oklahoma State held off No. 18 Miami 37-34  at Orlando, Florida.

Brennan Presley caught three of Sanders’ TD passes, finishing with six receptions for 118 yards. Sanders also led the Cowboys with 45 yards rushing.

Oklahoma State (8-3) scored on its first three possessions while jumping to a 21-0 lead. Sanders threw TD passes of 30 and 32 yards to Presley, and LD Brown had a 2-yard touchdown run.

Miami (8-3) scored in the second quarter when D’Eriq King threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brevin Jordan. But King left the game with a right knee injury with 4:06 remaining in the first half.

Backup quarterback N’Kosi Perry threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns for Miami. Perry’s 5-yard TD pass to Michael Harley helped the Hurricanes close to 37-34 with 5:39 left.

Perry misfired on six of his final nine passes and his 6-yard pass to Michael Redding III was not enough to convert a fourth-and-9 with under two minutes remaining.

Miami outgained Oklahoma State 512-418.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.