Quarterback wars in the ACC: Fueling Riley Leonard’s drive for excellence

By Gene Galin

Charlotte, NC – During his breakout session at this year’s ACC Football Kickoff event, Duke University quarterback Riley Leonard shared insights into his journey, the team’s remarkable turnaround, and his aspirations for the upcoming season. The talented quarterback credited Coach Elko for instilling a winning mentality and fostering a culture of hard work and football intelligence. As Duke prepares to face off against formidable opponents, including Clemson, Leonard is determined to prove that last year’s success was no fluke and that the Blue Devils are here to stay.

The Impact of Coach Elko’s Leadership

Under the guidance of Coach Elko, the Duke football team experienced a dramatic turnaround from a 3-9 record to a more promising performance last season. Leonard praised Coach Elko’s emphasis on the present, pushing the team to believe they could win now. This unwavering belief in the team’s potential allowed them to overcome previous setbacks and form a winning culture.

The Value of Hard Work and Football Intelligence

Leonard emphasized that Duke’s edge in the competition lies in their relentless work ethic and football intelligence. Though they may not have the size or speed of some other teams, the players’ dedication to outworking their opponents has been the key to their success. This approach has been further complemented by the team’s emphasis on football intelligence, allowing them to adapt and strategize effectively.

The Significance of Team Unity

The quarterback praised the camaraderie among the players, particularly in the running back room, where they compete while supporting and uplifting each other. This unity has been instrumental in creating a positive team dynamic and, according to Leonard, is the recipe for continued success.

Aspirations for the Upcoming Season

As Duke prepares for the upcoming season, Leonard acknowledges the challenges ahead, especially facing talented quarterbacks in the ACC. However, he expressed his determination to improve and work on his timing and arm strength to take his game to the next level. Leonard also highlighted the influence of studying NFL quarterbacks like Tom Brady and using their mindset as motivation.

The Quarterback’s Role and Outlook

Reflecting on his position as one of the several talented quarterbacks in the ACC, Leonard views this competition as a positive force that pushes each quarterback to shine even brighter. He remains humble and focused on the team’s success rather than individual accolades.

As Duke gears up to face off against powerhouse teams like Clemson, Leonard’s commitment to hard work, football intelligence, and team unity bodes well for the Blue Devils’ future.

Info Tidbits

  • 🏈 Coach Elko’s motivational speeches and commitment to winning played a significant role in the team’s turnaround.
  • 📿 Riley wears a bracelet made by his mom to remind him to stay humble amid praise and success.
  • 🙌 Riley didn’t expect to achieve this level of success in his career and feels grateful for the opportunities he’s been given.
  • 💪 Improving timing, arm strength, and mobility are key areas he aims to develop further to elevate his game.
  • 🎯 The team’s focus is on execution and elevating their game to maintain their winning momentum.
  • 🏆 The upcoming Labor Day game against a top-ranked team is seen as a great opportunity to prove the team’s consistency and build a winning culture.
  • 📹 Riley watches film of other quarterbacks in the ACC to learn and improve his own game.
  • 🤝 He appreciates the advice and mentorship received from veteran quarterbacks like Peyton and Eli Manning.

Watch Riley Leonard’s ACC Kickoff comments on YouTube

00:03 Coach Elko’s mindset and belief in winning now led to a turnaround in the program.

  • Coach Elko’s speech on winning now instilled belief in the team.
  • Coach Elko retained the same players and focused on hard work and football intelligence.
  • The team’s edge is their work ethic and football intelligence.
  • The quarterback wears a bracelet to remind him to stay humble and focused.
  • The quarterback gained confidence after a shutout win against Temple.
  • The upcoming game on Labor Day is an opportunity to prove themselves.

04:36 Drake May is a great player and competitor, and Riley Leonard is looking forward to playing against Clemson

  • Riley is impressed by the arm strength and skills of other quarterbacks in the ACC
  • Riley has learned important lessons about humility and handling oneself from Peyton and Eli Manning
  • The word ‘Elevate’ is used a lot in camp and signifies the focus on execution and improving the game
  • Riley has watched a lot of film on Clemson’s defense and acknowledges their effectiveness
  • Riley doesn’t pay attention to what people say and stays focused on controlling his performance
  • Riley recognizes areas of improvement in timing, arm strength, and protection
  • Riley aims to take his game to the next level by working on rhythm and timing

15:37 Preparation for success and improving mobility for sports

  • Preparing for success is important to avoid failure
  • Working on mobility can improve performance in sports

22:20 Jordan Walker is an incredible athlete known for his past protection and blocking skills.

  • Walker brings a lot to the running back position with his exceptional skills in protecting the quarterback.
  • He and other running backs on the team have a strong bond, competing against each other while supporting one another.
  • Duke’s position in the conference is a topic of discussion, but the team focuses on their capabilities and expectations.
  • Riley has a great relationship with Monk, the strength coach, and considers him a valuable teammate.
  • The Manning Passing Academy helped Riley realize his abilities to compete with top quarterbacks in the country.
  • He studies the mindset and skills of NFL quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Daniel Jones, and Patrick Mahomes to improve his own game.

36:08 Having Daniel Jones as a teammate gives me confidence and reassurance.

  • Daniel Jones’ success in college and the NFL is motivating for me.
  • Playing with other talented quarterbacks in the ACC helps me gain attention and showcase my skills.
  • Coach Elko keeps me humble and improves my football intelligence.
  • Learning from a defensive-minded coach like Elko benefits me in understanding the defensive side of the game.

38:54 Beating Clemson would be a huge step towards winning the ACC.

  • Clemson has a great track record and is well-coached.
  • The game on Labor Day Monday will be a chance to prove ourselves.
  • We have a strong program and are physically prepared for the season.
  • Quarterbacks working hard sets a competitive advantage.
  • I may not have to run as much this year with talented running backs.
  • Last year’s success on the run wasn’t a surprise to me.
  • Beating Clemson will show that last year was not a fluke.

39:49 Experience is an advantage for the team.

  • The second-year quarterback and new offensive coordinator provide experience.
  • The backup quarterback is highly motivated and eager to learn.
  • The strength staff has created a winning mentality.
  • The team has embraced hard work and is highly focused on football.
  • Good communication among players is crucial for success.
  • A competitive athlete has shown improvement and will be a key player.

40:45 Playing well against Clemson will show that we are more than just a basketball school

  • Preparing for Clemson by using our competitive advantages and experience
  • Favorite play last season: go-ahead touchdown in a close game
  • Favorite way to give back: baking cookies for kids at Ronald McDonald House