Summer 2024

Eagles rookie WR DeVonta Smith grateful for God's guidance as team enters playoffs

DeVonta Smith has been everything the Philadelphia Eagles hoped he would be when they took him 10th overall in April’s draft. Before Smith’s arrival this season, the last time the team had a wide receiver with more than 900 yards was 2015.

He immediately became quarterback Jalen Hurts‘ primary target, leading the Eagles in receptions (64), receiving yards (916) — a franchise rookie record — and receiving touchdowns (five). Smith’s relationship with Hurts dates back to their days together at the University of Alabama.

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“It’s been great knowing that you’re playing with a guy that’s going to give everything he’s got, going out there day in, day out,” Smith said of his quarterback on “Faith on the Field” last month. “Every little thing that he sees that he feels needs to be adjusted, he’s going to come to you, talk to you. It’s great playing with a guy like that.”

Smith shined in his NFL debut, catching six passes for 71 yards and scoring his first touchdown in a 32-6 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. He had a season-high 122 receiving yards in a Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that dropped Philadelphia to 1-3.

Sitting at 5-7 after Week 12, the Eagles put together a four-game winning streak to clinch a playoff berth with a week to spare. They finished the season 9-8.

During his appearance on “Faith on the Field,” Smith acknowledged the crucial role God has played in his journey to the NFL.

“I know I wouldn’t be here without God. Without Him blessing me with the ability that I have, I wouldn’t have got here,” he said. “Just talent alone doesn’t get you here. Just being a firm believer in Him, and just Him guiding me through this, when I’m down just talking to God, it helped me get through a lot.”

The Amite, Louisiana, native’s four seasons at Alabama began and ended with memorable performances in the national championship game. As a little-known freshman, Smith caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Tua Tagovailoa.

Three years later, Smith torched Ohio State with 215 receiving yards and three touchdowns despite leaving the game with a dislocated finger early in the third quarter.

Smith was far and away the most productive receiver in the country during his senior season with the Crimson Tide. He caught 117 passes for 1,858 yards and 23 touchdowns and became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy since 1991.

The first thing Smith did during his Heisman acceptance speech was give thanks to God. Later on, he encouraged the kids who were watching to believe in themselves and put their faith in God.

“To all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing,” he said. “I’m not the biggest, I’ve been doubted a lot just because of my size. And really, it just comes down to, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. No job is too big. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. And just keep believing in God and you’ll get where you want to be.”

The Eagles enter the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the NFC. They face the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round Sunday afternoon. Kickoff from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

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