Tide’s Smith: Heisman ‘in the past,’ focus on OSU

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Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian did their best to keep the focus off their own career-defining moments as they prepare for Monday’s matchup with Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Smith on Wednesday chose not to revel in becoming the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since 1991. He said that he went home after Tuesday’s virtual ceremony and “went straight to sleep.”

“Last night was a great feeling,” Smith said. “It was just a blessing to be in that situation with [quarterback Mac Jones and coach Nick Saban]. But now that’s in the past, and now it’s on to Ohio State.”

Smith, who led the nation in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, will likely be matched up against Ohio State All-America cornerback Shaun Wade in Monday’s championship game (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Smith called Wade a “crafty” player who is “a technician with everything he does.”

“I’m just looking forward to my last game,” Smith said. “I’m only guaranteed this last one, so I’m looking forward to getting to play against him.”

Smith is Mel Kiper’s fourth-best prospect in the 2021 NFL draft and his No. 1-ranked receiver.

Sarkisian, who will become the next head coach of the Texas Longhorns after Monday’s title game, said he’s “clearly I’m excited about the opportunity” that awaits him in Austin. However, he asked Wednesday that any questions pertain to his remaining duties with the Crimson Tide.

Sarkisian, who was previously a head coach at Washington (2009 to 2013) and USC (2014 to 2015), has been Alabama’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons.

“The commitment I made to Coach Saban two years ago is the same commitment I’ve made to these players, and that’s focusing on this game,” Sarkisian said. “Giving this game the attention that it deserves so our players have an opportunity to go out and play to the best of their abilities.”

Sarkisian said he’s trying to keep this week as normal as possible.

“Any of the spare time that I do have, that’s getting my attention for the job at Texas, whether that’s staffing or recruiting, things of that nature,” he said.

Sarkisian said Alabama receiver and return specialist Jaylen Waddle, who went down with an ankle injury against Tennessee in mid-October and hasn’t appeared in a game since, practiced Tuesday. Sarkisian wouldn’t provide any updates beyond that.

“We’ll see where it goes from here,” Sarkisian said.

Prior to his injury, Waddle caught 25 passes and four touchdowns. As a return specialist, he has averaged 19.3 yards on punt returns during his three seasons.

Smith said Waddle looked good in practice, but he offered only a brief answer when asked if he believed his teammate would be able to play.

“No comment,” Smith said.

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