In 2023, the Kentucky Wildcats are set to hand their offense off to Devin Leary, another transfer quarterback, just months after losing Will Levis as a likely high NFL draft pick. Levis, who transferred in from Penn State, had his moments at Kentucky, but could the Wildcats actually be better off with Leary at the helm than Levis?
Devin Leary Brings Elite Ability to Kentucky
Rewind the clocks back a few years, not too far, because that’s silly to do in today’s college football. I’m talking about prior to the 2022 injury-riddled season for Leary. Leary entered the 2022 season as the No. 4 overall quarterback in the country on the College Football Network starting quarterback rankings.
This lofty ranking came after Leary made ACC history in 2021, becoming the first quarterback to throw for at least 35 touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions. That mark was good enough to tie only four other quarterbacks at the national level that had accomplished such a feat in the past decade.
“Leary is a maestro with the football in his hands, limiting mistakes while still taking big shots, utilizing his arm strength and ability to hit every level of the field,” the writeup stated, written by yours truly. “He’s remarkably consistent as well and threw for four touchdowns in five different games a season ago.”
Leary possesses elite accuracy and a calming poise about him. He’s managed every type of game scenario and situation with ease and brings with him a deceptive athleticism inside the pocket. Truth be told, if he’s fully healthy, Leary enters the season as the top quarterback in the conference.
The College Football Network SEC QB rankings indicate a conference loaded with known commodities taking up the top-tier quarterback shelf and unknown, high-potential quarterbacks occupying the rest of the rankings.
As the Kentucky Pro Day has come along during the offseason and Levis’ draft profile reached its fever pitch, the question begs to be asked: Who is the better college football quarterback between Will Levis and Devin Leary?
The answer is more clear than you may think.
Leary is as good of a processor as there was in college football from 2021 through 2022 when healthy. He has the arm talent that rivals Levis from a pure talent standpoint. Though Levis may have the stronger arm, it doesn’t matter to Leary, whose release, accuracy, anticipation, and layering are all better than Levis’ during his time at Kentucky.
The key separator of the two, however, is the game-managing aspect that every quarterback needs. Far too often, the moniker game manager is labeled on a quarterback because he lacks other traits physically.
For Leary, his game starts as being a manager of the game, and he piles on elite traits after that. He’s also a born leader, something that has been instilled since he first stepped foot on Kentucky’s campus.
“We always talk about how we can get better, what route I need to work on, how he needed to throw it,” sophomore wide receiver Barion Brown said of Leary following an open practice. “Having a quarterback who can point out everything you need pointed out is very good.”
Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen also stated his first evaluation of Leary following an open spring practice.
“He does a nice job of playing on schedule, on time,” Coen said. “He understands the rhythm, he understands the pocket.
“For the most part, he really prides himself on taking care of the football, slightly moving the pocket and finding his outlets,” Coen continued.
It’s that on-schedule nature and game-managing aspect that got overlooked with Leary. He is far from just a game manager, but it’s one aspect that he does tremendously well.
Overall, that’s the aspect that separates him most from Levis by a large margin. The Wildcats will be in good hands in 2023.