|Date of birth:May 7, 1974|
|Place of birth: Dothan, Alabama|
|NFL Draft: 1998 / Round: 6 / Pick: 188|
|Debuted in 1998 for the Dallas Cowboys|
|Last played in 2004 for the Buffalo Bills|
|Roster status: Retired|
Career NFL statistics
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
|Stats at DatabaseFootball.com|
Izell Reese (born May 7, 1974 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida) is a former professional American football safety in the National Football League, who played seven seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, the Buffalo Bills, and the Denver Broncos. He played college football at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Although he came to the University of Alabama at Birmingham as an unrecruited walk-on athlete, he was named the starter at safety as a freshman and led the team with 4 interceptions. The next season he registered 70 tackles, 1 interception and posted 18 tackles—the third best single-game total in school history—against Western Kentucky University. As a junior he recorded 69 tackles. In his last year, he finished with 83 tackles and closed out his eligibility with a school-record 85-yard interception return for a touchdown against Arkansas State University.
During his time in college, the University of Alabama at Birmingham went from Division II to I-AA and on to Division I. He finished second in career tackles (276), fourth in career interceptions (8), first in career interception return yardage (135 yards) and first with 44 starts.
Dallas Cowboys (first stint)
The coaches were intrigued by his size/speed ratio but decided to keep him at safety. As a rookie he wasn't expected to make an impact, but he contributed in the "45" and nickel packages, while also emerging as the team's leader in special teams tackles with 21. He was a key player in the Cowboys leading the NFL in kickoff coverage (18.5 yards) and finishing third in punt coverage (6.2 yards).
Despite missing the final eight games of the 1999 season with a herniated disc in his neck, he tied for second on the team with 3 interceptions, registered 28 tackles, 5 passes defensed, 6 special teams tackles and 2 quarterback pressures.
After overcoming a career-threatening injury, in the 2000 season he became a seven-game starter at free safety in place of an injured George Teague, finishing first on the team in special teams tackles (22), second in interceptions (2) and eighth in tackles (72).
In 2001, the team tried to convert him into a cornerback, but after starting the first four games, he was replaced with Duane Hawthorne at left cornerback and was moved back to safety, where he registered 37 tackles (24 solo), 3 sacks, 3 passes defensed and one interception.
He signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills in 2003, where he served as a backup safety, before being placed on the injured reserve list on December 17. The next year he was named the starter at free safety, until he was replaced with rookie Rashad Baker and kept inactive from the 10th to the 16th game of the season.
Dallas Cowboys (second stint)
Reese retired in 2005 and now is educating high school athletes and families across the country on the college recruiting process as an educational speaker for the National Collegiate Scouting Association.
He is the co-founded of Rising Seniors, a program that gives top athletes in the Junior year of high school the opportunity to have a "rookie camp" experience and coaching on making the most of college opportunities and the recruiting process. The annual program ends with a "Junior Bowl" that gives college recruiters a glimpse of new talent.