Former Alabama WR DeVonta Smith has had a storybook career even before he reaches the NFL.

The undersized prospect came to Alabama and made a splash in the national championship as a freshman. Then he elected to return for another season in 2020 after considering the NFL, and turned it into a Heisman Trophy-winning season.

The man in the middle of all of that is Alabama coach Nick Saban. Smith hasn’t forgotten how the story began, and is grateful that Saban gave him an opportunity.

“When he first started recruiting me, he took a chance on me, small kid from Amite, Louisiana, not the biggest,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take. “He just gave me the opportunity to come to the University of Alabama and do the things that I do. And just him giving me that chance, I’m grateful for it and our relationship has just built since then with him allowing me to be a part of the leadership group and be a leader on the team and just do whatever I can to help the team get to where we want to be.”

The two-time national champion was a unanimous All-American and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2020.