NC State quarterback Devin Leary will miss the rest of the 2022 season as he undergoes surgery for a torn pectoral muscle, the program announced Saturday. Leary, the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, suffered the injury in the Wolfpack's 19-17 win over Florida State on Oct. 8.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said in his Monday press conference following the Florida State win that he believed it was not a season-ending injury, and described Leary's return timetable "a day-to-day thing." However, the school's announcement Saturday noted that "additional imaging caused NC State's orthopedic team to determine that surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle was the best course of action."
Leary threw for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions last season while completing 65.7% of his passes. In six games this season, he completed 61.1% of his passes for 1,265 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions while guiding the No. 15 Wolfpack to a 5-1 start ahead of Saturday's ACC showdown at No. 18 Syracuse.
As a redshirt junior, Leary could return for another season of college football. But he is also regarded as a potential early-round NFL Draft pick in 2023. The school noted there is "no damage" to his shoulder and that he is expected to make a full recovery.
Here are the takeaways from NC State's announcement about Leary and what it means moving forward.
Next man up
Without Leary in the second half against the Seminoles, NC State relied on Charleston Southern graduate transfer Jack Chambers at quarterback. Chambers attempted just one pass as the Wolfpack used their run game to squeak out a victory.
Though Chambers attempted just one pass last week, he was a second-team All-Big South performer last season while completing 230 of 417 passes for 2,490 yards and 17 touchdowns. True freshman MJ Morris is listed third on the depth chart at quarterback behind Leary and Chambers. He was a three-star prospect in the Class of 2022, per 247Sports.
NC State's preseason No. 13 ranking was its best since 1975, and this was supposed to be the season the Wolfpack broke through to reach 10 wins for the first time since 2002. But without Leary, even more will be required of the Wolfpack's stout defense if those goals are to remain in reach.
The good news is that the schedule is relatively manageable. NC State gets a bye after playing Syracuse this week and returns to action with a Thursday night home contest against struggling Virginia Tech on Oct. 27. In November, the Wolfpack play No. 14 Wake Forest, Boston College, Louisville and North Carolina. Though it's conceivable the Tar Heels could be ranked for the season finale, NC State still has enough talent without Leary to at least match last year's 9-3 regular season mark.
From there, a bowl win could get the program to 10 wins. The Wolfpack could have reached 10 victories last season before their Holiday Bowl matchup with UCLA was canceled when the Bruins dropped out of the game due to COVID-19 issues.