Want to raise the hackles of any self-respecting member of the NC State Wolfpack?

Mention the name Russell Wilson in the same sentence as the word Wisconsin and see what happens.

Wilson’s departure from Raleigh and subsequent success in leading the Badgers to the 2012 Rose Bowl as a graduate transfer is a wound that remains fresh a full decade after it happened.

It’s a scab that could potentially be picked again with Monday’s announcement that State’s latest star quarterback, Devin Leary, has entered the NCAA transfer portal and plans to play his final season of eligibility someplace else.

This is not to suggest that the specifics of Leary’s situation are equal in comparison to Wilson’s.

They’re actually apples and elephants.

Leary isn’t flirting with a professional career in another sport. He hasn’t backed his coach into any corners concerning a possible return. And there won’t be any hard feelings on either side after he’s gone.

He has simply decided that after a Wolfpack career interrupted by 2 season-altering injuries, a change of scenery in his final year of eligibility might represent his best chance at regaining his once-soaring NFL Draft stock. The potential for name, image and likeness earnings may also have factored into the equation.

Regardless of the reasons, he’s going to be one of the most hotly-pursued quarterbacks on the free-agent market and will pop up someplace else next season.

It could be Tennessee, which will need a dynamic passing talent to replace Hendon Hooker. Notre Dame is also in the market after losing Drew Pyne to the portal.

Or maybe it will be a prominent Big Ten school. Illinois, perhaps, where he could serve as a 1-season mentor to the Illini’s quarterback of the future – and younger brother – Donovan Leary and play for Bret Bielema, the same guy who stole Wilson from the Pack.

It doesn’t really matter where.

If he should lead his new team to double-digit wins, a New Year’s 6 bowl or worse (for State fans), into the College Football Playoff, it will rekindle some painful old memories. Like the remake of a classic horror movie.

A Nightmare on Hillsborough St., Part II.

Leary completed 65.7% of his passes in 2021 for 3,433 yards and a school-record 35 touchdowns, He was only intercepted 5 times while leading State to 9 wins and a berth in the Holiday Bowl.

His performance earned him selection as the ACC’s preseason Player of the Year for 2022 and mention as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate. But his season ended at the halfway mark when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle against Florida State on Oct. 8 and underwent surgery to repair the damage shortly thereafter.

The 6-1, 215-pound New Jersey native is 1 of 6 starting ACC quarterbacks to enter the transfer portal once it officially opened Monday.

He is by far the most prominent member of the group, which also includes Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei, Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong, Georgia Tech’s Jeff Sims, Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec and Pittsburgh’s Kedon Slovis.

Several of those players have already been unseated as starters and one has already found a new home. Jurkovec, a Pittsburgh native, has already been announced as Slovis’ replacement with his hometown Panthers.

Leary’s decision to leave, as surprising as it might be, isn’t entirely unexpected.

He telegraphed the move like an ill-advised pass in the flat when he was among the 30 players who were honored at Carter-Finley Stadium prior to State’s Senior Day game against BC on Nov. 12.

As much as the Wolfpack will miss his arm and presence both on the field and in the locker room, it’s not as if they’re unprepared to move forward without him. He’d already hinted at his intention to leave for the NFL Draft after his junior year before getting hurt.

The timing of his injury, though disastrous to the coming season, at least allowed coach Dave Doeren to get a sneak preview of heir apparent MJ Morris. The true freshman performed well by throwing 3 touchdown passes each in wins against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest before getting hurt himself in that Senior Day game against the Eagles.

“I was super proud of MJ,” Leary said before the BC game. “As soon as we got here, we all knew how special he was going to be. It was really only a matter of time.”

It has yet to be announced whether Morris will be healthy enough to play in State’s upcoming Duke’s Mayo Bowl game against Maryland in Charlotte on Dec. 30. 

Although former scout team quarterback Ben Finley has shown he’s capable of moving the team and winning a game, as he did against rival North Carolina in the regular-season finale, it’s important for Doeren to get one more look at Morris before heading into the offseason.

That way, he’ll have a better idea if the youngster’s time has truly arrived and he’s capable of carrying on the way Mike Glennon did after Wilson’s departure to Wisconsin. Or if he needs to make his own trip to the transfer portal in search of an insurance policy.

Just in case.