Devin Leary is no stranger to the process of recruiting and big decisions.
Dating back to middle school, he intrigued high school coaches as a developing quarterback in South Jersey with serious fundamental skills and raw potential.
Non-public powerhouses in the area made their pitches, looking to lure Leary in as their next top gun in waiting if and when he enrolled.
But instead of following the hype, Leary followed his heart and chose to attend Erial (N.J.) Timber Creek.
The decision paid off.
“Yeah, it’s probably the best decision I ever made, going to Timber Creek,” Leary said. “Playing for coach (Rob) Hinson, he goes above and beyond for all of his players — no matter who they are — and it’s just really an honor to play for him because he’s so tough.”
Almost three years later, Leary is one of the hottest prospects in South Jersey.
Entering his junior year with the Chargers after starting minicamp this week, the class of 2018 dual-threat quarterback blossomed into a recruit with six regional FBS offers to his name — and the list is growing.
So far, Boston College, Maryland, Rutgers, Temple, Massachusetts and Wake Forest extended verbal scholarships. Beyond that, Leary revealed that his interest is beginning to reach some big-time programs on the national level.
“Schools that have been showing interest have been like North Carolina, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, UCLA, Florida, Florida State and Duke, as well,” he said. “And for visits, I’m actually leaving this Wednesday with my (Timber Creek) team and we’re heading to South Carolina. And then the next day, we’re heading to North Carolina and Wake Forest. And then the following day, we’re going to N.C. State and Duke.”
Rutgers offered the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder on May 12, following up on interest expressed by head coach Chris Ash and offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer shortly after the two arrived on the Banks.
Leary said his growing relationship with Mehringer, who delivered the offer, stands out the most with the new staff.
“I just went to a camp with Temple and Rutgers (at the Tri-State Showcase) … and I just really built a great relationship with coach Mehringer,” Leary said. “I got a feel for the way he coaches his quarterback and kind of what type of person he is off the field as well. He’s a really nice guy, humble, down to earth and I also talked to coach Ash there. He loved seeing me. He heard good things about me. He’s actually seen me throw at the camp and he really liked me a lot there. But mainly, I just really started to build a relationship with coach Mehringer a lot ever since Rutgers offered me.”
Leary’s ties to the Scarlet Knights hit close to home. He is a teammate and close friend of Rutgers commit Naijee Jones, a trendsetter for a Rutgers recruiting class of 2017 — now boasting 12 verbals — as the first pledge to Ash and the new regime.
Leary said that Jones, one of six South Jersey commits making up half of the current class, has been in his ear plenty about being next.
“Yeah, I mean, he’ll make jokes here and there talking about ‘Ash Era’ and everything, but he doesn’t really pressure me into anything,” Leary said. “But it would be great playing with Naijee in the future as well. … It’s fun playing with him.”
Given how early it is for him in the recruiting process, time will tell where Leary gravitates toward as he continues to develop throughout his final two years of high school ball.
But for whoever eventually gets the South Jersey gunslinger, Leary gave a glimpse at the type of quarterback he is.
“Type of quarterback that I am is I love to win and I’m the type of quarterback to lead the team and do whatever I can and as far as I can go and have everyone else follow up with me,” he said. “I’m basically just the type of quarterback to. I’d say my strengths would be reading the defense ahead of the throw and with my arm power and accuracy, getting the ball through the correct window and timing as well.
“But, overall, type of quarterback and player that I am is a guy that just loves to really compete and just loves the game and loves to win, and just love being around my teammates and my brothers and just love the game.”