Duke football fans should be excited about its new starting quarterback. Head coach Mike Elko has named Riley Leonard to lead his offense in 2022. In a statement released by goduke.com, Elko said,
"“After a very intense quarterback battle this fall, we have decided to go with Riley Leonard as our starting quarterback. We are excited to see him lead our team this fall, and we also know that Jordan Moore will be an impact player for our offense in many roles as well.”"
The naming of Leonard as the starter is the culmination of a battle that began all the way back in late November of last year when 2021 starter Gunnar Holmberg entered the transfer portal just after the season ended. The competition between Leonard and Jordan Moore, both sophomores, began in earnest in the spring and continued through preseason camp. Leonard is the more adept passer, while Moore is the better runner. With the opener against Temple growing near, Elko’s timing is perfect. His offense now knows who will be leading them as they prepare during game week.
So, what does Leonard bring to the Duke offense? At 6’4” he has prototypical passer height and is up to a sturdy 212 pounds. As a true freshman last year, he received plenty of playing time-164 snaps in seven games to be exact. He connected on nearly sixty percent of his passes (37-62) for 381 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The native of Florence, Alabama showed how much potential he has by completing all thirteen of his throws against Louisville. He does certainly have potential to raise the level of Duke’s offense from 2021. To do so, he must be a good decision-maker, his completion percentage must be above sixty-five percent, and he also must raise the team’s paltry 6.97 yards-per-attempt considerably. He will have the luxury of being protected by a veteran offensive line that has the ability to protect and give him time to throw (read my article on those guys here).
Leonard was rated as the number forty-seven pocket passer in the 2021 recruiting cycle by 247Sports’ Composite Rankings. When you read their scouting report on him, you see the type of potential he possesses. The one thing I like when I read their critique of him coming out of high school is he has good pocket presence and keeps his eyes up the field when avoiding pressure.
Duke fans should be very excited about Riley Leonard. They now have a young quarterback who can be the offensive cornerstone to lead the program back to respectability and beyond.