Ex-NFL QB Ryan Leaf Hired by ESPN as College Football Analyst

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 23:  Ryan Leaf attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on January 23, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Ryan Leaf is going back to the college game as an announcer.

According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), ESPN hired the former Washington State signal-caller as a college football analyst for the upcoming season. He will work with play-by-play announcer Clay Matvick while calling games on ESPN2 and ESPNU.

"Ryan has experienced the highs and lows in the game of football, putting him in a position to relate to a wide range of situations players can find themselves in," Lee Fitting, ESPN's senior vice president of production, said. "He will be able to rely on those experiences—including an unbelievable college career where he was an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist—in his analysis, making him a tremendous asset for our team."

Leaf pointed out he has a broadcast journalism degree from Washington State and reached out to a number of former players who have transitioned to television coverage of games, including Joel Klatt, Brady Quinn and Kirk Herbstreit.

He has also worked for the Pac-12 Network and SiriusXM's Pac-12 channel.

The former NFL quarterback was at his best in the collegiate game when he finished third in Heisman Trophy voting as the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 1997. There was plenty of debate over who would be the top pick of the 1998 NFL draft between Leaf and Peyton Manning, and the Washington State quarterback went No. 2 to the San Diego Chargers.

He struggled in 25 career games for the Chargers and Dallas Cowboys and finished with 14 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions.

The AP report pointed out this move represents "another step in the remarkable comeback" for Leaf after he spent two years in prison following a 2012 arrest for violating his Texas probation by breaking into a Montana home to steal prescription drugs.

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