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Western Kentucky wide receiver Dakota Thomas (left) bows to WKU wide receiver Dalvin Smith after Smith scored a touchdown during the Hilltoppers’ 45-13 win over the Charlotte on Oct. 30 at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Western Kentucky redshirt freshman wide receiver Dalvin Smith has been named a 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year nominee, it was announced Tuesday.

The Glasgow native is one of 30 NCAA football players from any division to be nominated, and one of two Conference USA representatives.

Smith’s honor marks the second time in as many years that a WKU player has received the recognition. Running back Jakairi Moses was named a 2020 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year nominee last season.

Smith suffered a season-ending leg injury while run-blocking against UT Chattanooga on Oct. 24, 2020, undergoing surgery three days later. Smith then partook in twice-daily physical therapy sessions for over four months throughout his rehab process, during which time he participated in muscle-building exercises for his quad, calf and hamstring. On March 1, Smith was finally cleared for full participation.

During the 2021 season – in which Smith made the transition from tight end to wide receiver – he has made the most of his opportunities while playing within a talented and deep Hilltopper receiving group. In just seven appearances, Smith has reeled in six receptions for 74 yards and four touchdowns. For his career, six of Smith’s 10 total catches have gone for scores.

Since 2018, a panel of writers, editors and sports information directors from CoSIDA, The Associated Press and Touchdown Illustrated have recognized college football student-athletes from all divisions for overcoming injury, illness or other challenges by sharing their remarkable comeback stories throughout the season.

In December, three of the 30 nominees will be chosen as winners of the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award and recognized at a special ceremony during the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

Smith and the Hilltoppers will continue conference play Saturday when they host Florida Atlantic for senior day. Kickoff will be at 11 a.m., with the game being broadcast on Stadium.