Jerry Reese 

UT Martin, ’87, ’88

When Jerry Reese addressed graduates during UT Martin’s spring 2011 commencement, he told them 95 percent of people have the same basic skills and urged them to use “their last 5 percent” to make a difference in the world.

Reese’s 5 percent catapulted him from a four-year football career with the UT Martin Pacers into more than a decade as senior vice president and general manager of the New York Giants NFL franchise, a post he began in 2007.

While wearing a Pacers uniform, Reese became one of the top defensive backs in UT Martin history and earned a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the Gulf South Conference. He also was named to the second All-GSC Decade Team in the 1980s and led the conference in interceptions as a sophomore.

After graduating in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and again a year later with a master’s in education administration and supervision, Reese remained with the football program as a student coach and later earned a full-time position. He was named assistant head coach of the Pacers in 1993 and joined the Giants staff as a scout the next year.

He rose through the team’s administrative ranks and became director of player personnel in 2002 before accepting his current position in 2007. Since then, he has managed the Giants through two Super Bowl victories in 2008 and 2012—both against the New England Patriots. Reese was inducted into the UT Martin Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

Part of the Tennessee Alumnus100 Distinguished Alumni feature.