Did NC State football launch Heisman Trophy campaign for QB Devin Leary? What school says

Ethan Hyman/ehyman@newsobserver.com
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N.C. State launched a promotional campaign for quarterback Devin Leary on Monday, but don’t call it a Heisman campaign for the returning junior.

Not yet, at least.

Leary is coming off a record-breaking year, during which he set a new N.C. State single-season mark for touchdown passes (35). He also threw for 3,433 yards, sixth all-time in Wolfpack history, and he was the ACC leader in touchdown passes against league competition with 27.

He’s one of the top returning quarterbacks in the ACC, and N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren has gone on record saying he’s the best quarterback in the country.

Monday, the Wolfpack took steps to make sure everyone else had a chance to see what Leary has to offer, as well, launching the “D Leary Delivers” campaign, complete with website, social media presence and a highlight video.

The site rolls out a list of accomplishments and highlights from Leary’s career — so far — in Raleigh.

But, don’t say the ‘H’ word.

“We expect his play this season will turn it into a Heisman campaign,” N.C. State spokesperson Annabelle Myers said in a text to The News & Observer. “But for right now, (the site) is to promote a great player who we feel hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves.”

At the conclusion of the 2021 season, Leary was left off of all three ACC postseason teams. Kenny Pickett (Pitt), Sam Hartman (Wake Forest) and Brennan Armstrong (UVA) were the first-, second- and third-team quarterbacks. Hartman and Armstrong return in 2022. Leary was named honorable mention.

N.C. State has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. In 2003, quarterback Phillip Rivers finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting. Last year, Leary passed Rivers on the single-season passing touchdown list.

Could Leary win the Heisman?

Dating back to 2006, 13 of the 16 Heisman winners have been quarterbacks. Two of them — Jameis Winston and Lamar Jackson — were from ACC schools.

Pickett finished third a year ago, behind winner Bryce Young of Alabama.

In May, Athlon Sports published a list early Heisman Trophy candidates. Leary wasn’t listed as a favorite, but his name was under “other names to watch.”

SI.com recently listed Leary’s odds to win the Heisman at 40/1 odds. Vegasinsider.com, as of June 3, lists Leary’s odds at + 8,000, tied for 34th on their list with 14 others.

The team around Leary is solid. After finishing 9-3 a year ago, N.C. State returns 10 starters on defense. Even though the Wolfpack has to replace its top two running backs, top receiver and a left tackle who was the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Leary has plenty of other pieces around him.

N.C. State has been ranked in the top 10 in several way-too-early Top-25 polls, and with national exposure and the potential to make a push for an ACC Atlantic Division title, Leary will get plenty of TV time.

With Leary under center, N.C. State is 12-3 over the past two seasons. In 2021 Leary threw just five interceptions. Only three QBs all-time have thrown for 3,400 or more yards, 35 touchdowns with five or fewer interceptions. One of those quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota, won the Heisman Trophy. Mac Jones finished third in the 2020 voting.