SAN ANTONIO – Texas A&M star defensive end DeMarvin Leal has seen and heard all the hype, but on this quiet Saturday morning at Rutledge Stadium, the place he used to call home, Leal is reflecting on some of the moments that got him here.
“Memories, my first touchdown freshman year against O’Connor. Smithson Valley of course, Roosevelt, Wagner, all those games. It was just crazy,” said Leal during an interview with KSAT Sports in late July.
Leal, a preseason All-American, All-SEC player and projected first round draft pick, was back home only for a short time, getting to visit with his mom and family before turning all his attention to the upcoming season in College Station.
“I just feel blessed to be able to come from a place like this with the culture, the alumni, be able to improve and be better for my family and myself,” said Leal.
Some would say there was never a doubt Leal would reach this status. As one of the nation’s top recruits coming out of Judson High School, Leal had several offers from major colleges and was a 5-star player.
But Leal understands the work it’s taken him to get to this point and knows it will be more difficult with the accolades he’s received this preseason.
Leal is in his third season at Texas A&M. He came back strong after some early injury setbacks to start his college career. Now, he’s one of the team leaders on a defense expected to contend for a conference and hopefully a national title.
Judson alum @boimarv9 said he feels blessed to have Steele alum @OriginalJaylon on the Aggies. Two guys from the 210 looking to wreck offenses this season starting Sat. with Kent State. @JudsonFootball @Football_Steele @InstantReplaySA #GigEm pic.twitter.com/uScEtxwLU8— Larry Ramirez (@LRam2) September 2, 2021
“It was just a lot of adversity I had to go through and a lot of praying, a lot of talking to my mom, coaches, friends, family and just being able to recoup myself,” said Leal. “My expectation is to be able to be leader of the defensive line, just make sure that we’re at our standard. And they were all committed to our goal.”
In June, Leal and three other Aggies were featured on the cover of the iconic Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine. He was honored, but more proud to be on the cover with his “Wrecking Crew” teammates and brothers on the field.
“It was a blessing because I’m on there with my team, and we we’re just having fun, it was a good magazine photo shoot,” said Leal.
Leal has also stayed humble through the process. Off the field, he unwinds by watching Netflix and shows like “Power.” He doesn’t want to look too much ahead to the future and miss out on the present and what’s ahead of the Aggies this season.
Leal knows he’s considered to be a top-10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft if he were to declare early, but said his focus is on “school and football,” adding “if it’s God’s will, then it’s going to happen.”
And with new name, image, likeness (NIL) laws in place for college student-athletes, Leal has launched his own brand with merchandise and clothing. He also plans to use this opportunity to give back to the Converse community that has supported him over the years.
During his interview with KSAT Sports, Leal said he wants to start a “Boys and Girls Club” in the area and find different avenues to assist the community the way many other Judson alums, such as Tre Flowers and Jarveon Williams, have done so in the past.
“Being from here is just like a movie, you have everybody coming for you because that’s Judson,” said Leal. “We’re built to go out into different atmospheres and be successful because that’s the things that we’ve learned here. We learn the core values of what it takes to not only be a man on the field, but off the field as well.”
He also takes the responsibility of being a role model to the next generation of Judson youth players seriously.
“They just love just to hear what I’ve been through and basically just know the journey, and the hard work it takes, the dedication, the commitment,” said Leal.
A journey that started on this same field on Friday nights, continues this fall at Kyle Field and hopefully into the NFL.