Courtesy: ENMU Athletics
PORTALES, N.M. – Kelley Lee recently announced that he would be stepping down as the head coach of the Eastern New Mexico football program after four years at the helm and nine years total with the team.
“We are sad to see Coach Lee go as he led our program to new heights in his time as head coach. He leaves some big shoes to fill but we wish him and his family the best moving forward,” said Athletic Director Matt Billings.
Lee leaves as the school’s all-time leader in career win percentage (.636, 21-12). He also guided the Hounds to the program’s first ever Division II bowl win after defeating Southern Arkansas in the 2019 Heritage Bowl.
“It has been a great privilege to be a part of the ENMU Greyhound football program the last nine years and a true honor to lead the program as the head coach for the last four years,” said Lee.
The 2019 Hounds broke the school record for rushing yards in a single season with 4,191 yards and matched the second-highest win total in the history of the program with a record of 8-4. Lee and company also broke the Lone Star Conference record for rushing attempts in a season with 770, a mark that was previously held by the Greyhounds back in 2016 with 731 attempts.
A total of 18 Greyhounds were recognized as all-conference performers following the 2019 season, continuing the strong tradition built under Lee in one of Division II football’s toughest conferences. The Hounds completed their seventh straight year with a record of .500 or better in conference play in 2019 and knocked off the second nationally-ranked opponent during the Lee era with a 20-17 win over no. 21 Angelo State.
In addition to a rushing attack that finished second in all of Division II football with an average of 348.8 yards per game, Lee continued to establish a program that is among the nation’s best in tight game situations, producing a record of 11-0 in games decided by seven points or less under Lee’s direction. Eastern New Mexico also complied a record of 18-0 when leading entering the fourth quarter of play and 15-1 when leading at the half under Lee.
Year two of the Kelley Lee era saw the Hounds take on five opponents throughout the season that were ranked or receiving votes in the national polls, finishing with a record of 5-6. Eastern took the defending national champions Texas A&M-Commerce and defending Lone Star Conference Champions Midwestern State down to the wire inside Greyhound Stadium and shutout arch-rival West Texas A&M for the first time since 1992 on the road in Canyon, Texas.
The ground attack continued to prove as one of the nation’s best throughout the 2018 season, ranking fourth in all of Division II (284.5 ypg) and tops in the Lone Star Conference. The Hounds also ranked in the top-25 nationally in six other categories: redzone offense (9th, 89%), kick return defense (11th, 15.8), time of possession (16th, 32:32.0), 4th down defense (19th, 30%), and 4th down offense (22nd, 64%).
In his first year as head coach in 2017, Lee led the Greyhounds to an 8-2 overall record with a 6-2 mark in LSC play. ENMU led all of Division II in three categories during the season in rushing offense (352.7 ypg), time of possession (36:40), and least amount of passes intercepted by opponents (2). Defensively, ENMU led the LSC in rushing defense at 80.8 ypg, which ranked sixth in Division II. The Greyhounds finished the season ranked in the top-25 statistically in yards per completion (7th, 15.75), 4th down conversion pct on defense (11th, .286), 3rd down conversion pct on defense (24th, .321), and defensive first downs allowed in a season (18th, 174). Running back Kamal Cass was named AFCA First Team All-American and a D2Football.com Second Team All-American under Lee. Cass was also named the LSC Offensive Back of the Year to go along along with First Team All-LSC honors. Overall, ENMU had 16 players named All-LSC, two named Academic All-LSC, one All-Region player, One Academic Athletic of the Year, and three LSC Player of the Week accolades.
“My family and I have been truly blessed to have been but a small piece of the great Greyhound football tradition,” said Lee, “Above all, we want to thank the student-athletes and coaches for all their hard work and dedication. We are forever grateful for all the Greyhounds past and present who have invested so much heart and soul in this program.”
Lee’s next venture will be as the Athletic Coordinator and Head Football Coach at Veterans Memorial Early College High School in Brownsville, Texas.
Andrew McCraw has been named interim head coach of the Greyhounds while a search is conducted for the next head coach.