When the 2016 football season ended, Devin Leary was one of the top quarterbacks in the state.
As workouts begin in advance of the 2017 season, Leary is one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
It's been a meteoric rise for the Timber Creek High School athlete, thanks to some sensational work during the off-season at a series of national showcases and camps.
"It's a huge honor to be recognized nationally," Leary said Tuesday, taking a break from Timber Creek team workouts on the field behind the high school in Gloucester Township. "Just coming from South Jersey, representing South Jersey.
"Obviously there have been a ton of Timber Creek guys who have been recognized nationally and to add on to that list, coming through Coach Hinson, Coach White, all those guys, it's just a huge honor."
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Leary was invited to the Elite 11 finals, a camp for the top quarterbacks in the class of 2018 held earlier this month in Los Angeles.
Leary played so well at that camp he was named one of the Elite 11 quarterbacks in the country, and invited to Nike's The Opening finals, a showcase event for the top athletes at every position to be held later this month in Beaverton, Ore.
Leary also competed at rivals.com Five-Star Challenge last weekend in Indianapolis, raising his national profile even more with another impressive showing.
"I always knew," Leary of his ability to compete with the most highly-touted quarterbacks in the country. "Whenever I would go to some of these camps there would be a lot of guys hyped up coming in. I would get there and I would kind of compete better than them.
"I would work harder than them and it would show on the field but sometimes I would get overlooked at these camps because of my height because these guys are like 6-6, they're huge.
"But it was always something I always knew I had inside of me."
Leary said before departing for the Elite 11 finals that competing in that event had been a dream of his for years.
"It was better than I imagined," Leary said. "Honestly, it was best camp and most I learned every. They really strssed the mental side of the game. Every QB could throw the ball . . . but their big thing was trying to help you control positive thoughts while on field.
"They tell you, 'Ninety percect of the game is mental. You have to control the controllable.' It was just fantastic."
In the wake of his performance in Los Angeles, Leary said he has heard from some big-time college programs that previously had not been too active in recruiting him.
Leary said he still is a "hard commit" to North Carolina State but admitted that he has "acknowledged" contact from other programs.
"I'm a hard commit, a solid commit," Leary said of North Carolina State. "Ever since the Elite 11 I've been hearing from a couple schools.
"Penn State, they had QB decommit (Justin Fields). They've been really, really strong on me, recruiting. Georgia, Louisville.
"I acknowledge them. All these great schools are starting to reach out to me. But I think I'm the right fit for NC State. I'm pretty solid with them."
Leary first made his name in South Jersey with his performance on the field for Timber Creek. He has led the Chargers to back-to-back South Jersey Group 4 titles and an active 16-game winning streak.
Last season, Leary set state records with 48 touchdown passes and 3,688 passing yards. He completed 62.7 percent of his passes with just four interceptions.
Leary will enter the 2017 season needing 3,191 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes to reach astounding career totals of 10,000 yards and 100 touchdowns, both of which would be state records by a large margin.
Despite his success on the national stage, Leary said it was special to return to his team and begin workouts in the blazing heat in preparation for what he hopes will be another championship season for the Chargers.
"I love it," Leary said of being back on the field with his high school teammates. "I love being with my guys. The national stuff is great and all but at the end of the day, these are my brothers.
"These are the guys I go out with every single weekend, every day after school. No one out here has any enemies. We all have each other's back and I love being a part of that."
--Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org
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