FAU football recruit recap: Leighton McCarthy

Part 16 of our weekly series highlighting each of the 19 players that signed with Florida Atlantic on National Signing Day.


Leighton McCarthy will look to learn his new position under senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson (9), who set a single season record for the Owls last year with 13.5 sacks. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson broke Florida Atlantic’s single-season and career-sack records as a junior last year. However, how long he holds those records may be in question with incoming freshman Leighton McCarthy on the way.

McCarthy broke Wekiva High School’s season record with 20 sacks from the linebacker position. This fall at FAU, he will transition over to Hendrickson’s position, which creates an excellent learning experience for McCarthy — who didn’t start playing football until the end of his sophomore year.

“I never met him, but I’m excited to pick his brain and see what I can learn,” McCarthy said of the opportunity to learn under the senior.

McCarthy credits his record to two things: his speed and his coach’s scheme. He said most of the defensive plays were based around him and therefore he “had a lot of opportunities.”

“I’m more of a speed linebacker, I was able to get [to the quarterback] faster than most people,” he said.

That quickness transitioned over from the basketball court, where McCarthy said he played until his junior year.

“I knew football would take me farther,” he said. “[Basketball] helped me a lot with footwork and conditioning.”

Football will take McCarthy down south to Boca Raton. He said it was an easy decision to pick FAU.

“They made me feel comfortable, I feel like I can be there for a long period of time,” he said.

At FAU, the future accounting major just wants to make a name for himself.

“My freshman year I hope to make sure everyone knows who I am,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully for my leadership skills and everyone knows I come into work everyday.”

Hendrickson may have recorded the second-most sacks in the NCAA last year, but McCarthy will compete for the opportunity to top him in his freshman season.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.