Stoops and his staff were able to go out and bring in the top-ranked transfer portal quarterback, despite the offensive struggles in 2022, as Devin Leary landed in Lexington.
Leary had an outstanding 2021 season as he threw for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns, and just 5 interceptions making him a preseason Heisman candidate heading into 2022.
Unfortunately, he only played in 6 games last season due to an injury but had already thrown for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns before his season ended.
As the top-ranked transfer QB, landing Leary was not easy for the Cats. In his first meeting with the local media, Leary noted that he heard from about every school.
“To be honest with you, probably just about every school from every conference (reached out), so I can’t really say it was like a top five or anything,” Leary said via KY Insider. “My biggest thing was just talking to my family, making sure I had the right personnel around me, making sure I had a collaborative relationship with the offensive coordinator and head coach.
“And then thirdly, just the scheme of the offense.”
When Leary committed to Kentucky, Liam Coen was not yet the offensive coordinator. However, wide receivers coach Scott Woodward, aka Woody, stepped up to get Leary to Lexington.
“The biggest thing for me was coach Woody was recruiting me a ton,” Leary said. “He recruited me back when I was in high school, and he was at UMass. He just told me previously he had a really good relationship with Liam just over the years, knowing each other through college. When he started recruiting me, the first thing he started doing was just breaking down film. Giving me an idea of what could potentially happen and instantly, it clicked in my mind that I knew I could operate in this offense.”
It also helped that Kentucky happens to have two of the top wide receivers in the country in Barion Brown and Dane Key.
“They’re young, but they’re explosive,” Leary said of Kentucky’s wideouts. “They’re very, very talented receivers. I think really every receiver in that receiver room brings their own dynamic. For those guys, both of them to play at such a young age, they’re only going to get better. For me to be able to watch film with them and really work with them one on one, I think we’ll all just make each other better.”
There were a lot of things that Leary was looking for in his new home, and despite hearing from nearly every top school in the country, it was Kentucky that checked all of his boxes.