Texas A&M senior offensive tackle Carson Green needs just three words to describe sophomore defensive end DeMarvin Leal: “A freak athlete.”
Leal has certainly proved that on the field.
So far this season, Leal has totaled seven tackles, four quarterback hurries, one sack and one fumble recovery. His most impressive accomplishment though, is an interception he managed to return 43 yards against Alabama.
“First he picks the ball, he catches it, so that’s pretty impressive,” Green said. “Then he starts running and he does a hurdle when someone tackles him. He’s 300 pounds, that’s pretty impressive.”
Leal said the success of his sophomore season is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
“All glory to God,” Leal said. “Just being in the right place at the right time, it’s supposed to happen. Fortunately, I’m there.”
In 2019, Leal totaled 38 tackles, five quarterback pressures and a pair of sacks. He said his improvement this year isn’t a result of anything special.
“I just go out and do what I need to do, play my game,” Leal said. “I don’t really focus on everything like my name and the hype behind it. I just go out and do my job.”
Despite Leal’s humility, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said the sophomore’s success is a result of his dedication to his craft.
“He has an unbelievably competitive nature,” Fisher said. “When he’s on the field, I don’t ever see him loaf for one second. I don’t care what drill it is, what we’re doing or how we do it. Those kinds of guys change [the] culture of an organization. They’re great players, and they’re highly recruited players who play... with their effort and toughness.”
Leal has also proven himself to be a versatile player for the Aggies, switching between defensive end and tackle during games.
“Both of those positions, I love them both,” Leal said. “I’ve been playing them all my life, so being able to go inside and out, I really don’t care. It’s just like, ‘Let’s do it.’ It doesn’t matter when, where or how, I’m down.”
Coming out of Judson High School in Converse, Texas, Leal was listed as a five-star recruit and the No. 2 player in Texas, according to 247sports. Despite receiving offers from Texas, Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and more, he chose to move just over 150 miles northeast to College Station.
“I knew I wanted to come here from day one, since my freshman year, getting this offer,” Leal said. “I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I just wanted to explore and look around and make sure I was picking the right place, get all my pros and cons, making sure I was good myself going into college.”
Leal’s choice came down to one thing.
“[A&M defensive end] coach [Terry] Price is the biggest reason,” Leal said. “That dude’s a legend. Being able to play with him behind my back, I knew I was going to be able to explode and prosper as an athlete.”
Despite all the success Leal has had on the field, Green said his off-the-field improvement has been equally impressive.
“Leal’s a great teammate,” Green said. “I don’t think anybody would say anything bad about him at all. He brings a lot of juice to the team, during practice he’s always yelling. I might not like it, it gets kind of annoying. He definitely brings the energy that we need and he’s making a bright future ahead. Especially as a leader. You can tell that a lot of people are looking up to him, and he’ll fill one of those leadership roles in the future.”
Leal said the yelling he does during practice is to get the younger players used to the game atmosphere.
“When you’re in the game and you go against other athletes, most of them, what they try to do is get into your head to mess up your game, try to distract you,” Leal said. “That’s my biggest thing, just trying to talk a whole bunch of mess to not only make them better, but to get them used to that so they won’t react in a negative way.”
For Leal, being a leader starts with the personal relationships he develops with his teammates.
“As a team, we’ve gone through a lot, and we’ve come together and closer than we were before,” Leal said. “Being able to speak to everybody, being able to get to know everybody’s names and know where they’re from, what they’re about, it went a long way.”
While trying to step into his leadership position on the field, Leal was also dealing with the possibility of a canceled fall season. He said the Aggies are grateful they have a chance to play.
“We worked so hard during this whole pandemic just to come back and play,” Leal said. “Our mentality as a team is to be great, to get those dubs.”
In the middle of a challenging SEC slate, Leal said facing high-power offenses each week can get grueling. However, this challenge is exactly what he and his teammates signed up for.
“It’s a challenge that we as a defense are ready for,” Leal said. “We already know what we signed up for when we signed our Letter of Intent. We came here to play SEC ball. We don’t see it as a challenge, we just see it as another offense and we’re trying to get after it every single time.”