Former Duke QB Riley Leonard Transfers to Notre Dame

    Riley Leonard has chosen his next destination. The former Duke QB will be playing for Notre Dame in 2024 bringing a veteran presence to South Bend.

    A huge domino in the 2023 transfer portal has fallen, with former Duke QB Riley Leonard choosing to wear blue and gold in 2024.

    Leonard chose to enter the transfer portal on November 29 and was expected to be one of the top quarterbacks available. Shortly after entering the portal, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were considered one of the favorites to land Leonard. And in the end, South Bend turned out to be his destination after all.

    Why Has Riley Leonard Chosen Notre Dame?

    Leonard has chosen to transfer to Notre Dame for the 2024 season, and they were always expected to be one of the top landing spots for Leonard.

    With a prominent football program, huge brand popularity, and donors with deep pockets, it is easy to see why Leonard wants to play at Notre Dame.

    The move comes after ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Leonard would be on campus in South Bend on December 6-7, and it is rumored that they pulled out all the stops to get Leonard to stay in South Bend.

    MORE: College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    As Leonard prepares to make a run at the NFL Draft after the 2024 season, he will likely have been impressed by how Notre Dame can help him succeed. He was expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft before his injury, and at 6’4” 212 lbs, Leonard offers NFL size and tools.

    At Duke, Leonard, along with HC Mike Elko, was able to elevate the program to national coverage. In his three years as a Blue Devil, Leonard threw for 4,450 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. But Leonard only played seven games in 2023 after sustaining injuries throughout the season.

    Leonard originally injured his ankle in Duke’s 21-14 loss to Notre Dame and reaggravated on his attempt to return. He also suffered a toe injury against Louisville in Week 8.

    If Leonard can stay healthy in 2024, he will hope Notre Dame can put him back on the map as an NFL prospect.

    Why Did Notre Dame Need a New QB?

    Notre Dame has been active in the transfer portal for a second year after picking up Sam Hartman in 2022. Hartman entered the transfer portal after playing five seasons for Wake Forest.

    At Notre Dame, Hartman threw for 2,689 yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, leading Notre Dame to a 9-3 finish. Hartman has played his final game with the Irish, as he’s already opted out of the Sun Bowl against Oregon State.

    With Hartman’s college eligibility exhausted, he’s entering the NFL Draft.

    It leaves a hole on the Notre Dame roster that Leonard fills perfectly. An experienced player with production and professionalism, Leonard has the making of a Notre Dame quarterback.

    Without signing Leonard, the Irish would have been left with four-star recruit CJ Carr entering his freshman season. And while Notre Dame believes that Carr offers great promise, they would prefer to let him redshirt and opt for a veteran head, allowing them to win now.

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

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