Leal Ready for Tough Opener

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Click here to view the recruiting card of Mark Leal

Quarterback Mark Leal ‘s future team, Virginia Tech, kicks off its regular season tomorrow night against a tough opponent. Leal’s current team, Atlantic High School (Delray Beach, FL), will do the same tonight.

“I always prepare normally every year, for any game, but this first week has been the hardest I’ve ever prepared,” the 6-1, 185-pound Leal said. “We open up with Pahokee. They dominate South Florida football. They have three or four state titles in a row now, so this season-opener is going to be big-time. The past three weeks, we’ve had hard preparation.”

Pahokee is a smaller school, playing on the 2A level while Atlantic plays on the 6A level. Still, the talent is evident, with six seniors already committed to high-major FBS programs. Atlantic is talented in its own right, though, led by Leal and Ohio State wide receiver recruit James Louis.

“I’m real confident,” Leal said. “This year, I believe we have the team to make something happen with. If there is any year for us to do something, this will be the year. This off-season, we got a couple of transfers from local schools and they are really good players. We have good depth. Our subs are very good. We’re not losing much if we have to substitute. At Pahokee, they are a real small team so a lot of guys go both ways.”

Leal turned in an excellent junior season, passing for 2,355 yards and 21 touchdowns, but believes he is now a better player.

“Anything the coach needs, I can do,” Leal said. “I work real hard on reading defenses. We have a good run game and a good pass game, so teams throw all sorts of crazy defenses at us. I work on getting my pre-snap reads right. I think I’ve picked up that pretty good. I think I’m better all-around now.”

Still 100-percent committed to Virginia Tech, Leal finds it tough not to think about playing in the ACC next season. He’ll get a taste for what he’ll experience later this fall, when he attends Virginia Tech’s home contest versus Miami.

“I have that thought every single day,” Leal said, referring to the thought of being at Tech next year. He plans to sign a letter of intent in February and enroll next summer. “I can’t wait to get up there. As soon