Feb. 14, 2006
West Texas A&M University head football coach Don Carthel announced Tuesday (Feb. 14) that Ryan Leaf has accepted an offer to become WTAMU's quarterbacks coach.
"It's a huge addition to our staff, 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. "I think overall, it is a real positive addition to our staff with his college football expertise in guiding Washington State to their first Rose Bowl in over 60 years."
Leaf, a Great Falls, Montana native, played his collegiate football at Washington State University, where he passed for nearly 8,000 yards in his career. As a junior, Leaf averaged 330.6 ypg in leading the Cougars to the Rose Bowl against the University of Michigan, Washington State's first appearance in the Rose Bowl since 1931. Leaf was a first-team All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, behind winner Charles Woodson of Michigan, and runner-up quarterback Peyton Manning of University of Tennessee.
After his junior year, Leaf entered the NFL Draft, and was chosen with the second pick of the 1998 draft by the San Diego Chargers.
Leaf spent five years in the NFL, playing for the Chargers, as well as a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 2001 and then the Seattle Seahawks, before retiring in 2002. His best statistical season was in 2000 with the Chargers, when he threw for 1,883 yards and 11 TDs.
"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 contacted his head coach during his playing days at Washington State, current University of Texas-El Paso head coach Mike Price, who put him in touch with Carthel.
"I'm very excited to be back in Texas. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there with the Cowboys and Texas had a strong calling to me when I became interested in coaching."
Leaf earned his bachelor's degree from Washington State in May of 2005 in arts and humanities, with a minor in psychology. After his retirement, Leaf spent time vacationing in Europe before spending time on his ranch in Montana, but is anxious to get back involved with football and join the Buffaloes' coaching staff.
"The WTAMU community is such a tight knit group with so much enthusiasm for the university, it reminds me a lot of Pullman, Washington's support for Washington State."
Leaf is expected to begin his WTAMU coaching duties in early March, in preparation for the Buffaloes' spring drills, which begin March 28.
The Buffaloes ended their season with a 10-2 mark, the first season to end with 10 wins since 1950, and is WTAMU's first winning season since 1998. The Buffaloes had won a combined seven games in the last four seasons. WTAMU went 8-1 in LSC winning not only the LSC South, but the LSC Championship, the Buffaloes' first LSC title since 1986, ironically, defeating Tarleton State for the LSC title, 30-26, on Nov. 5.
This season, the Buffaloes' offense led the NCAA-II in passing offense with 363.8 ypg, as well as ranking ninth in the nation in total offense with 477.3 ypg. WTAMU also ranked seventh in the country in scoring offense, hanging 40.3 ppg on the board.
The Buffalo offense also led the NCAA-II in passing completions with 361 and is second in passing attempts with 540, the third year in a row that WTAMU has been in the top three in the nation for both passing attempts and completions.
This season, the Buffaloes also set new WTAMU records for pass completion percentage (361-of-541, .669) and total offensive yards per play with 6.9.
Bell was a national finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, as well as an honorable mention Don Hansen Football Gazette All-American, d2football.com All-American, and a first-team Don Hansen Football Gazette All-Southwest Region selection. This season, Bell was 311-of-454 (.685) from 3,799 yards (345.4 ypg) with 30 TDs and 13 INTs, ranking as only one of three QB's in Division II to average over 350 yards a game.
WTAMU head football coach Don Carthel announced Tuesday that former college and NFL player Ryan Leaf will be joining the Buffaloes' coaching staff as quarterbacks coach.