ESPN has filled a key position for the upcoming college football season. Maria Taylor, current ESPN and SEC Network host, reporter and analyst, will join the crews of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and ABC Saturday Night Football. Taylor will take on the reporter role vacated by Samantha Ponder who was recently named the new host of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. She will begin her new duties in August as part of her existing multiyear contract.
“In a very short time, Maria has demonstrated versatility, presence and ease in her many roles. She is the rare ‘triple threat’ in this industry and we look forward to having her on the road with GameDay and SNF come fall,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN senior coordinating producer, college sports.
A former Georgia standout basketball and volleyball player, Taylor joined ESPN in 2012 from IMG College, and served as a sideline reporter for the ESPN2 Saturday night primetime telecast and the Orange Bowl. In 2014, she joined SEC Network as a sideline reporter for each week’s biggest football and basketball games. In 2016, she was named host for SEC Nation, the national network’s traveling pre-game show, with Paul Finebaum, Marcus Spears and Tim Tebow, while also hosting ESPN’s season-long women’s basketball studio coverage including the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. In addition, Taylor is a game analyst on ESPN and SEC Network women’s basketball and volleyball games.
Taylor said, “I am honored and excited to join the College GameDay and Saturday Night Football teams. I grew up watching GameDay and I have always been inspired by the new and innovative ways they entertain and inform college football fans. And I welcome a return to the sideline reporting role to cover the games that shape the college football landscape.” Taylor added, “I know this would not have been possible without my colleagues at the SEC Network for teaching, encouraging, and supporting me over the last three years. I am grateful.”
With Taylor’s departure from SEC Nation, it was announced today that Laura Rutledge will be the new host each Saturday where she has served as reporter the past year. Rutledge will retain her role as host of the network’s news & information show SEC Now outside of football season.