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Following the 2018 NFL Draft, American football outside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch joined the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys. Before turning pro, he had a highly successful college career on the Boise State Broncos football team which culminated in a Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Award in his redshirt junior season. But that was only the beginning of his many feats.
Leighton Vander Esch’s Bio, Ethnicity & Age
Leighton Vander Esch was born on February 9, 1997, in Riggins, Idaho to parents of German descent; Sandy and Darwin Vander Esch. He had his high school education at Salmon River High in Riggins, Idaho where he got some exposure in three sports football, basketball, and track.
Being something of an all-around star, Vander Esch helped his high school’s basketball team to two successive 1A D2 State Championship titles as a junior and senior. He equally helped the school’s football team to two eight-man football state championships and 1A D2 State Championship title. Playing quarterback and a hybrid safety/linebacker role, the talented youngster recorded 121 out of 199 attempts for 2,155 yards, 28 passing touchdowns and one interception in his senior year. He also had 157 carries for 1,565 yards and 34 rushing touchdowns, 131 tackles (85 solo), 5 interceptions, 5 fumble recoveries and 4 defensive touchdowns.
Leighton Vander Esch’s impressive performance caught the attention of the Boise State University football coaching staff. In addition to his successes on the field, he was also the valedictorian in his graduating class of 2011. However, despite his impressive high school football stats, the youngster did not receive any football scholarships. He got into Boise State University as a preferred walk-on and after redshirting his freshman season, he got a scholarship in his second year in college.
Playing in the linebacker position for the Boise State Broncos football team, Leighton Vander Esch featured in 12 games in his redshirt freshman season during which he posted 20 tackles (14 solo), one sack, one fumble recovery and one first down on a fake punt. Owing to a neck injury, Vander Esch played only 6 games in his sophomore season during which he registered 27 tackles (23 solo), 3.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack and one interception.
Playing at weakside linebacker, Vander Esch transitioned to a starting role in all 14 games during his junior season which is regarded as his breakout season. He finished the season with 141 tackles, 14.5 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions as well as a team-best 4 forced fumbles. His outstanding performance earned him the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Award as well as a First Team All-Mountain West selection. He was also named the MVP of the 2017 Mountain West Conference Championship Game in which the Broncos defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs. He put up an equally excellent performance at the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl where the Broncos triumphed over the Oregon Ducks.
On December 19, 2018, Leighton Vander Esch announced his decision to enter for the 2018 NFL Draft, forgoing his last year of college football eligibility. Expectedly, the talented linebacker was selected in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys as the 19th overall pick of the draft.
Family – Parents
Leighton Vander Esch was raised alongside 4 older siblings; a brother named Jason and sisters Shannon, Christon and Morgan. His father Darwin Vander Esch runs a vast professional hunting company. In 1995, he set up the Heaven’s Gate Outfitters in Idaho and after a few years, he sold off the business. He currently operates the JD’s Kniktuk Outfitters in Dillingham, Alaska.
Leighton Vander Esch must have inherited the sports genes from his mother who was a known basketball player in her prime. His brother Jason equally played football in high school. All his sisters were also basketball stars in high school and also went on to play in college. Thanks to his family of sports lovers, Vander Esch has enjoyed a strong support system during the budding stages of his football career. In September 2016, his father Darwin purchased a Disney Land bus to transport up to 30 of their close family and friends to all the road games of their boy wonder.
Height and Other Body Stats
Leighton Vander Esch stands at an impressive height of 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm). With a body weight of 116 (256 lbs), the talented linebacker undoubtedly has a gigantic physique. However, Vander Esch stands out for his fluid long-striding movements which makes him highly athletic for a player his size.