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Dexter native hired as coach in Buffalo

Friday, January 20, 2012

David Lee, above, was hired as quarterback coach for the Buffalo Bills last week. Lee attended Dexter Schools from 1957 until 1964 and then came back for his freshman year in high school. He is shown between Eli Manning, left, and Peyton Manning on the Ole Miss campus this past spring.
Former Dexter resident David Lee was hired as quarterback coach for the NFL's Buffalo Bills under Head Coach Chan Gailey recently. Lee grew up in Dexter, the son of former Coach Bill and Jean Lee. He was in Dexter recently to attend the funeral of a friend, Bob Foushee. At the time, Lee was looking for a coaching position after serving as offensive coordinator under Houston Nutt at the University of Mississippi.

Lee was not unemployed long. Within two weeks he received calls from both the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets who were interested in him as quarterback coach. He interviewed first in Buffalo where he was offered the job by Coach Chan Gailey. He left there for an interview with the Jets. The Jets had just hired Tony Sparano as the new offensive coordinator. Lee served as quarterback coach from 2008-10 for Sparano when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Lee left the Dolphins in 2010 to coach with Nutt at Ole Miss.

Lee has 37 years of coaching experience, including two stints in the NFL with both the Dallas Cowboys and the Dolphins. Lee is largely credited in helping develop Tony Romo from an undrafted college free agent in 2003 to a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback in 2006.

Lee is shown with his parents, Bill and Jean Lee. His dad, Bill, coached at Dexter throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s.
Lee made a decision to take the Bills job after some deliberation. He will be working with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills also hired Dave Wannstadt as defensive coordinator.

"I'm excited and proud to be the Bills' quarterbacks coach," said Lee in an interview after the hiring. "Chan Gailey has been a successful head coach everywhere he's been. His teams have always moved the football really well. Being able to coach under him was the difference in my decision to come to Buffalo."

"We were very pleased that we could hire David Lee to be our quarterbacks coach," Gailey said about Lee's decision. "He is very well-respected as a technician and a teacher of quarterbacks. He brings a wealth of experience - having done a lot of different types of offenses, as well as the traditional pro-style offense."

Lee was recognized as the one responsible for introducing the Wildcat offense to the NFL three years ago. After that 2008 season Lee was named "Innovator of the Year" by the Sporting News for his implementation of the Wildcat.

Lee has deep roots in Dexter.

He attended the Dexter Schools from 1957 until 1964. He left after his seventh grade year and then returned for his freshmen year in high school in 1966-67.

His dad coached the football team at Dexter High School from 1949 until 1959. He was the motivating force for bringing Tom Thrower to Dexter as head coach. Thrower had just graduated from Southeast Missouri State and Bill Lee stayed on as an assistant under Thrower until 1963. The team went undefeated that year.

With his dad as coach, David loved all sports. He joined a host of Dexter youth at the time in playing pick-up football, basketball and baseball. Prior to the age of computers, cell phones and video games, fellow classmates such as Al Rendleman, Mike McCoy, Stan Hathcoat, Dale Williams, Terry Demaree and Terry Gibson, along with older youth like Joe Nichols and Bob Foushee, spent countless hours honing their athletic skills.

"I have great memories of Dexter," Lee said. "I remember all those pickup games, and throwing hundreds of passes to McCoy in my parents yard on Trotter Lane."

Lee attributed much of his later success in football to those early years.

The Lee family moved away from Dexter in 1964 when Bill took a job as coach in Florida.

The Lee family returned in 1966 when Bill took a job as assistant coach to Tom Telle in Dexter. David Lee, always a quarterback, moved up to the varsity his freshmen year and wound up starting the final games. He also played on the varsity basketball team that year.

The family went back to Florida after the school year as his dad took another coaching job there. Lee was missed in what was to become the DHS Class of 1971. There were a number of good athletes in that class who went on to the state championship game in 1970 without Lee, who would have been a big asset.

Meanwhile, Lee had a stellar career as a high school quarterback in Florida. He was an all-state player and attended Vanderbilt University on a full scholarship. He quarterbacked for Vanderbilt from 1972 through 1974. It was at Vanderbilt that he first met Bill Parcells, who was defensive coordinator there. Parcells, who would go on to a big career as head coach in the NFL, first brought Lee into the NFL coaching ranks. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired Parcells as head coach. Parcell hired Lee as quarterback coach in 2003. He stayed in Dallas until 2007.

Lee began his coaching career after college at the University of Tennessee - Martin.

Lee spent a lot of time coaching in the college ranks. He coached under Ken Hatfield at Arkansas and later at Rice University. He was the head coach at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in between stints with Hatfield. He returned as offensive coordinator under Houston Nutt at Arkansas for several years before departing for the NFL. He went to work for Nutt at Ole Miss after leaving Miami. He was let go when Nutt was fired this past season.

Lee's return to Dexter recently was his first visit back to his hometown in years. His last visit to Dexter was when he agreed to come back as a featured speaker at a fundraiser. Money was being raised at that time to re-sod the football field.

He was on his way Thursday to Buffalo, where he was to begin in his new position at the start of next week.

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Outstanding!!!! Great to see a small town make it BIG!!! :) Congrats!!!

-- Posted by clickytown on Mon, Jan 23, 2012, at 6:38 PM

Nice story Mike. Fond memories of being the nut squad (3rd string) qb my freshman year.

-- Posted by manjon on Tue, Jan 24, 2012, at 10:56 AM

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