Leaf takes coaching job at West Texas A&M

Updated: February 15, 2006, 10:49 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CANYON, Texas -- NFL bust Ryan Leaf returned to football far from the spotlight Tuesday, joining Don Carthel's West Texas A&M staff as quarterbacks coach.

"I feel very honored to be a part of Coach Carthel's staff and a part of an up-and-coming successful program," Leaf said. "About a year after I retired from playing, I decided that I wanted to get back to college, where I had the greatest time of my life, and to get involved with college football."

Leaf, the former Washington State star drafted second overall by San Diego in 1998, spent five seasons in the NFL. His career was plagued by injuries and interceptions, along with numerous off-the-field problems.

Leaf played in San Diego (1998-2000) and Dallas (2001) and was in the Seattle training camp (2002). He appeared in 25 games and started 21 and had a starting record of 4-17. Leaf completed 317 of 655 pass attempts for 3,666 yards, with 14 touchdown passes, 36 interceptions and an anemic passer rating of 50.0.

After winning seven games in the four previous seasons, the Division II Buffaloes were 10-2 last season in Carthel's first year. Leaf takes over for Wes Phillips, who left along with offensive coordinator Lee Hays to take the same positions at Baylor.

"Ryan brings a great deal of football experience and knowledge to our quarterbacks. We're excited about him further developing our quarterbacks Dalton Bell and Keith Null," Carthel said Tuesday.

According to the Web site, Leaf was recommended to West Texas A&M coach Don Carthel by Mike Price who is currently the head coach at Texas-El Paso and was Leaf's coach at Washington State.

In his stint with the Chargers, and largely because of his signing bonus, Leaf banked more than $12 million before San Diego gave up on him. Since his retirement, Leaf earned his bachelor's degree in arts and humanities from Washington State.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.