Forest Hills announced the hiring of Jammie Deese as its new head football coach on Jan. 14.
Deese was serving as the offensive coordinator at the University of West Florida, an upstart program that won the Division II National Championship this past season.
He left the program after his wife, Brandi, took a job as Indian Trail’s director of planning last June, so he was out of football last season.
Deese joined the West Florida staff in 2014 as the first coordinator hire for the new program. In the team’s inaugural season in 2016, the Argonauts averaged more than 400 yards per game and over 300 yards passing. During the team’s run to the Division II national runner-up in 2017, Deese’s offense averaged 343 yards.
After moving to Indian Trail with his wife and to help his kids transition to their new school district, Deese said he’s ready to get back into the game.
“I prayed about it, and it’s faith and family for me, so it was the right decision to come back to Indian Trail,” he said. “I was an assistant at UNC Pembroke and was very familiar with Forest Hills then. They always had a ton of talent that could run around, and I’ve actually sat in on some playoff games when I was still at UNC Pembroke.”
Deese’s offensive expertise and attention to detail in the weight room were two qualities that made him attractive, and it couldn’t come at a better time. This past season, the Yellow Jackets averaged just 17.7 points per game, the lowest of any Forest Hills team since 1983.
“There has been a lot of athletic success at Forest Hills recently in terms of soccer, in terms of basketball and cheer. There’s no reason we can’t have that same success here,” Deese said. “The key to building a program is culture … For me, coming in with the success that I’ve had it’s because the culture is what drives it. This is what we’re doing, this is how we’re doing and I’m holding you accountable for those things. We’re going to seek excellence in it every day.
“Everybody has X’s and O’s and runs similar schemes, but the successful programs win with culture. That’s what I’m looking to establish and get going.”
Deese takes over for Cory Smith, who resigned last month after four seasons leading the Yellow Jackets. Smith posted an 11-34 record over three seasons at the school, including this past fall when Forest Hills went 4-7 overall, 1-3 in conference and failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Deese is just the fourth Yellow Jacket coach since at least 1974 joining Smith (2016-19), John Lowery (1986-2015) and Algie Faircloth (1974-1985).
Deese is a Scotland County native who placed in the Shrine Bowl and the East-West All-Star Game as a high school senior.
He later went on to star at Wake Forest, where he was a four-year starter at wide receiver and a member of the Demon Deacons’ nationally recognized track program.
On the field, Deese finished his collegiate career with 184 catches for 2,348 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He would go on to sign as a free agent with the Washington Redskins and spent time in NFL Europe, the Arena Football League and in the National Indoor Football League.
Deese began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under current National Coach of the Year Pete Shinnick, the current West Florida coach, when Shinnick was at UNC Pembroke. Deese joined the coaching staff full time in 2010 and was promoted from receivers coach to offensive coordinator in 2013.
Under Deese’s leadership, the Braves compiled a record of 50-24 with two NCAA tournament appearances in his seven years. UNCP had the ninth best rushing offense in Division II under his watch in 2009. In his first year as an offensive coordinator in 2013, Deese and the Braves’ offense had the ninth best passing offense in the nation.
Deese graduated with his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wake Forest in 2000 and earned his master’s in sports administration from UNC Pembroke in 2009. He comes to Forest Hills with his wife and their two daughters, Myah and Jersey.
He said this is where he wants to be, and he’s excited to get it going on and off the field.
“Winning is more than winning football games,” he said. “I’m going to judge my kids on their success in the classroom, getting their degree and walking away ready for college if they want to go, but have them ready for life and work. That’s what’s going to drive our program.”