Devin Leary: What to know about Kentucky’s new football QB

One of the highest ranked quarterbacks in the transfer portal He is heading to Kentucky as the likely successor to Will Levis.

Former North Carolina State quarterback Devin Leary committed to Kentucky on Tuesday. according to 247Sports ranked Leary the No. 2 available transfer at any position and No. 1 quarterback on the portal in early December.

In four years at NC State, Leary completed 60.2% of his passes for 6,807 yards, 62 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. His best season came in 2021 when he completed 65.7% of his passes for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and five interceptions. That year, Leary was named one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the best quarterback in college football.

Kentucky was in the market for a transfer quarterback following the departure of Levis, who is widely projected as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. In two seasons as Kentucky’s starting quarterback after Transferring from Penn State, Levis went to a 17-7 record.

Devin Leary ranks sixth on NC State’s list for career passing yards (6,807) and fourth in passing touchdowns (62). jacob kupfermann access point

Leary will be the heavy favorite to start Kentucky’s opener in 2023, but will face competition from backups Kaiya Sheron and Destin Wade. Sheron and Wade are expected to play in the Music City Bowl against Iowa after Levis excluded from the game to start preparing for the draft. A former athlete-rated four-star recruit, Wade will make his college bowl debut as a dual-threat option at quarterback.

Here are three things to know about Kentucky’s new quarterback.

1. A major injury ended Leary’s 2022 season early

While Leary’s 2021 season earned Leary a spot on the preseason Heisman Trophy candidate rosters, he was unable to duplicate that success in 2022 when his season ended after six games because he tore a pectoral muscle on his right side during the October 8 game of NC State vs. Florida State.

The injury required surgery just over a week later. In November, Leary told reporters in Fayetteville he was waiting to see how his rehab progressed before deciding whether to return to NC State or enter the 2023 draft.

Instead, Leary entered the transfer portal. Had he stayed at NC State, Leary would have worked with a new offensive coordinator since Wolfpack coordinator Tim Beck was hired as the new head coach at Coastal Carolina.

It’s unclear when Leary will be able to return to practice.

The torn pectoral muscle was Leary’s second major injury in college. His 2020 season ended early with a broken fibula.

Quarterback Devin Leary is attended off the field by medical personnel during North Carolina State’s game against Florida State on October 8. The pectoral muscle tear on the right side of him ended Leary’s season. Karl B. DeBlaker access point

2. Leary broke one of Phillip Rivers’ NC State records

While 2022 had to be considered a disappointment for Leary, he left NC State as one of the best quarterbacks in program history.

Leary ranks sixth on NC State’s list for career passing yards (6,807) and fourth in passing touchdowns (62). His 35 touchdown passes in 2021 broke Phillip Rivers’ school record for the most in a single season.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Leary is the only NC State quarterback to throw at least four touchdowns in five games against ACC opponents in a season and the only Wolfpack quarterback to throw at least four. touchdowns in three straight games. At one point, he threw 228 consecutive passes without an interception.

Leary’s record-breaking performances weren’t limited to 2021, either.

Earlier this fall, he became the third quarterback from NC State to account for six touchdowns in a single game in a win over Charleston Southern. He was the only player on that list to have thrown for four touchdowns and rushed for two in the same game.

Devin Leary was rated by 247Sports as the No. 2 available transfer at any position and No. 1 quarterback on the portal in early December. Ethan Hyman

3. Like Levis, Leary comes to the UK from the North East

Levis, a Connecticut native, was the rare New England Kentucky football player. Leary was also raised in the Northeast, albeit in the Mid-Atlantic rather than New England.

A former star at Timer Creek High School, Leary graduated as the all-time leader in passing yards (9,672) and passing touchdowns (117) in New Jersey high school football history. He was twice named the New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year.

As a senior in high school, Leary was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports. The 247Sports Composite ranked Leary the No. 16 pro-style quarterback in the high school class of 2018.

The next season, Leary and High School Defensive Back Commitment 2023 Naasir Addison could become the first New Jersey native to play for Kentucky since 2018 National Defensive Player of the Year and current Jacksonville Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen.

This story was originally published December 20, 2022 12:23 p.m.

Jon Hale profile picture

Jon Hale is the University of Kentucky football beat writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He joined the Herald-Leader in 2022 but has covered UK athletics for over 10 years. Hale was named the 2021 Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year.

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