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#pounditTuesday, June 22, 2021

Ryan Leaf joins ESPN as college football commentator

Ryan Leaf will be making his way to a television near you this coming college football season.

Leaf has joined ESPN to provide color commentary for college football games, primarily on ESPN2 and ESPNU next season, according to Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press. Leaf’s role will include doing games all over the country as well as some studio work.

“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,” said ESPN vice president of production Lee Fitting. “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 led Washington State to the Rose Bowl before being selected No. 2 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft, behind only Peyton Manning. Leaf became one of the most infamous draft busts of all time with the San Diego Chargers, was out of the league after four years, and ultimately spent time in prison and battled drug addiction.

He has since turned his life around and began pursuing broadcasting opportunities, reaching out to and shadowing the likes of Brady Quinn, Joel Klatt, Kirk Herbstreit, and Greg McElroy. The latter led to an audition with ESPN in March, and Leaf said he was offered and accepted the job roughly a month ago.

“I had to pull off the side of the road. I was really emotional,” Leaf said.

Leaf has been open about his battles with addiction. To land at ESPN is quite the turnaround for him considering he was in prison five years ago.

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