Awful Announcing's rising sports media stars for 2024 (2024)

One of AA’s favorite annual posts is the list of Rising Stars of Sports Media. This list honors those individuals working in the industry who are moving forward in their careers with bright futures ahead. They could be analysts, hosts, reporters, or podcasters. They could be new to the national scene or taking on a huge assignment for the first time. As you’ll see below, they can even be young or old. You can view our 2023 Rising Stars list featuring names like Trevor Immelman, Melanie Newman, and John Fanta. This year we’ve gone bigger than ever with so many worthy candidates and many more who could also certainly qualify. Here’s the 2024 Rising Stars of Sports Media.

Adam Wainwright, MLB Network/Fox

Wainright is a great choice now that he’s officially retired. Wainwright is smart and insightful both in the booth and the studio, and he’ll only get better with more reps at both Fox and MLB Network. If Wainwright sticks to broadcasting long-term, he could end up taking the baton from John Smoltz as Fox’s top MLB analyst.

Amina Smith, ESPN

Welcome to SportsCenter’s newest anchor @aminajadeTV who’s hosting her first show now w/ @shaepeppler.

Amina joins ESPN from @NBCSBoston where she worked the past three years. More via @beapanitzESPN:

— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) April 5, 2024

With all of the networks and experience already under her belt (Fox, BTN, BET, Stadium, NBC Sports Boston, and now ESPN) you’d think Smith was a longtime veteran of the industry. Instead, the newest SportsCenter anchor is just getting started.

Andraya Carter, ESPN

From a media perspective, nobody has benefitted from the recent rise of women’s basketball more than Andraya Carter. Not only has she solidified her status as the face of ESPN’s women’s basketball coverage but the former Tennessee guard has also been a contributor to the network’s NBA and college men’s basketball coverage. Whether as an analyst or talking head, she figures to be a cornerstone of ESPN for years to come. Her trio with Elle Duncan and Chiney Ogwumike was a revelation this past March.

Ashley Nicole Moss, CBS Sports

“this Knicks team does not get this far without Tom Thibodeau coaching them (…) i think this is a very well constructed team that was unfortunately the victim of a lot of injuries at the wrong time.” @CBSSports @CBSSportsNBA

— Ashley Nicole Moss (@AshNicoleMoss) May 20, 2024

Already a member of Forbes’ 30 Under 30, Moss is a multi-hyphenate who represents what the modern sports media world looks like. The CBS Sports host/analyst has already broken a lot of ground but appears likely to continue doing so for some time.

Ben Solak, The Ringer

Whether it’s breaking down game film, evaluating roster management, analyzing draft prospects, or covering really anything NFL-related, Ben Solak does fantastic work. As a writer and podcaster for The Ringer, Solak blends enthusiasm with detailed breakdowns and reasonable analysis. There can be know-it-all vibes and condescension in the football analysis community, but Solak presents the information and opinions in a charming way that can appeal to any NFL fan, casual or junkie.

Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, ESPN/Omaha Productions

Awful Announcing's rising sports media stars for 2024 (1)

Watch out for these two newbies who made their television debuts earlier this year. Belichick and Saban are a pair of up-and-comers who have somehow amassed a wealth of knowledge being able to talk football, whether it’s the college or the pro game. Both were surprisingly relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera so early in their media careers and if they choose to stick with it, they could make a big impact in the industry.

Boston Connor, The Pat McAfee Show

As The Pat McAfee Show’s profile has risen, so too has Boston Connor’s — to the point he’s now more talent than producer. Every big interview seems to feature a humorous Connor cameo and one can only imagine what his pairing with Bill Belichick will produce.

Chase Daniel, NFL Network

Chase Daniel might not have the mainstream appeal of Tom Brady, but his intricate breakdowns of film and happenings within the NFL on his social media and YouTube channel make him deserving of an NFL broadcast booth job somewhere. Chase has the ability to explain complex things so that new fans and longtime fans can appreciate it. If you are a football fan and want to be a smarter fan, Chase Daniel is a must-follow. Hopefully, now that Chase is with the NFL Network, they give him a shot during one of their broadcasts sometime this season.

Colt Knost and Smylie Kaufman, CBS/NBC

It’s impossible to separate these two on-course reporters, who have both brought a great amount of youth, energy, and entertainment to their network’s respective PGA Tour coverage when it was much needed. The role comes so naturally to both that it’s easy to imagine Knost and Kaufman doing this for the next two decades and being televised golf mainstays.

Jake Butt, Big Ten Network/Fox

Much like his alma mater, it was a big year for Jake Butt as the former Michigan tight end solidified himself as the Big Ten Network’s top college football game analyst. Having also added UFL assignments on Fox to his resume, Butt is clearly has a bright future in the industry.

Jamal Crawford, TNT

The former sixth-man extraordinaire has served a similar role at TNT thus far in his media career, mainly serving as a Tuesday night analyst or as a sub for the featured crew at Inside the NBA. Crawford was excellent this postseason joining Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller during the early rounds of the playoffs and it’s time he earned a starting role.

Jeff Darlington, ESPN

Jeff Darlington tells Stephen A. Smith that police asked him who they arrested and he responded that it was Scottie Scheffler.

— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 17, 2024

Darlington has been around ESPN for a long time as an NFL reporter, but he showed that he was so much more at the PGA Championship earlier this month as the voice of record for the Scottie Scheffler arrest insanity. Darlington was there at the scene, reported clearly and accurately, and then was able to own the story every step of the way all day on ESPN networks. Hopefully, it’s a springboard for more to come.

Jessica Sims, ESPN

.@jess_sims is ready to join the Ohio State band 🎼#CollegeGameDay

— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 21, 2023

As ESPN has tweaked its GameDay lineups, Jessica Sims has become a mainstay in both football and basketball. In the era of influencers, Sims has transitioned seamlessly from her role as a popular Peloton instructor to one of the faces of ESPN’s college coverage and has also added Good Morning America to her budding television career.

Jordan Reid, ESPN

ESPN has quietly reshuffled its NFL Draft coverage over the past few years and Jordan Reid has been one of the best additions. While he may only get limited airtime, he’s made the most of his opportunities and his online content — including seven-round mock drafts — is some of the best in the industry.

Lucy Rohden, Meadowlark Media

“I have one TV and then I have a little TV and then I have an iPad so I’d do three games at once…I really wouldn’t move that much. I wear compression socks so I don’t get blood clots.” – college football superfan @lucy_rohden walks us through a typical Saturday for her during…

— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) August 21, 2023

Over the past year or two, Dan Le Batard has turned his desire for his show to become “younger and smarter” into a punchline at the expense of himself and cohost Jon “Stugotz” Weiner. But in Rohden, Meadowlark Media has found the exact type of new, fresh voice it needed. The company scooped Rohden from freelancing at Wave and PointsBet while running a hysterical personal TikTok account out of Los Angeles and gave her the platform she needed to attract an audience and level up theLe Batard Show.

Noah Eagle, NBC

The younger Eagle has soared so quickly that he may have even surpassed “rising star” into purely “star” status. It was easy to question whether the 26-year-old got the NBC primetime gig for Big Ten Football because of his last name, but he quickly proved that his talent was worthy of any assignment. He’ll soon add the Olympics and French Open to his growing portfolio.

Sean Ross Sapp, Fightful

For years, breaking news in the world of professional wrestling was dominated by one man, but that’s no longer the case. In fact, Sean Ross Sapp’s Fightful Select Patreon has become every bit as essential for those looking to stay up to date on the latest backstage happenings as Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter has been for the past 40 years. Whether it’s injury updates, contract news, television spoilers, or business dealings, Sapp seemingly has his finger on the pulse of every aspect of the industry. If Meltzer is the godfather of the wrestling media, then SRS is the clear heir apparent.

Steve Gelbs, SNY

If Steve Gelbs misses the next few games against the Braves, you can point to this as the reason why…

— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 7, 2024

You may not know his name – and Gary Cohen might not either — but you will know it soon. Steve Gelbs has quickly and quietly immersed himself as one of the more entertaining and thought-provoking sideline reporters that Major League Baseball has to offer. He knows his stuff and is quick to offer that quick-witted humor that makes the SNY broadcast go.

Awful Announcing's rising sports media stars for 2024 (2024)


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