By LARRY VAUGHT
Quarterback Devin Leary understands the transfer portal that allowed him to leave North Carolina State to play at Kentucky this season has been “different” for coaches, players and fans. However, he took a business-like approach to his transfer decision.
“Everyone entering the portal has got to weigh their options and know what they want. I wanted to be developed as the best possible player and be able to accelerate on to the next level and be successful. It starts right now and making sure guys around here can rally around me,” Leary said.
He said he knew the only way to earn the respect of his teammates and build relationships with them was to show he was willing to work.
“My job now is to keep my foot on the gas and we can be much better than we were last year,” Leary said.
He knew UK had “awesome” receivers when he transferred along with a tight end room loaded with experience.
“The challenge for all those guys every single time they step on the field is they need to see an upgraded version of themselves,” Leary said. “They have taken on that challenge and my job is to push them and remind them they can always be better than they have been.”
Offensive coordinator Liam Coen knows Leary has a “great way” about him that makes it easy for him to connect with teammates.
“He’s very natural. He’s not a rah-rah guy. He’s not always out in the front being the guy to speak. Devin leads by example and the way he approaches the game,” Coen said. “He also has a really high football IQ and studies the game all the time. I called him (one night) and he said he was watching the 2016 LA Rams ‘Hard Knocks’ (TV show)
“He is all ball but also extremely relatable to his peers and also his coaches. He’s also talented and that makes it fun to work with somebody like that.”
Leary also made a favorable impression in Kentucky’s first scrimmage last week.
“It was really good to see him be comfortable in there,” Stoops said. “There’s things that he did extremely well and there’s some areas where he’ll see that he needs to just be more patient and go through the progression, but we hit some good plays.”