Ole Miss handed out its spring football awards Saturday, highlighted by graduate student linebacker Deterrian Shackelford becoming the first ever two-time recipient of the prestigious Chucky Mullins Courage Award.
Shackelford, who was the first junior to receive the award in 2011, was honored again by the Ole Miss coaching staff during a breakfast ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the award prior to the Regions Bank Grove Bowl.
He will wear Mullins’ No. 38 jersey throughout the 2014 season.
The award, sponsored by Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, honors the late Chucky Mullins, who had his Ole Miss career come to an end during the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt when he was paralyzed after making a tackle. After returning to his studies at Ole Miss, Mullins passed away May 6, 1991.
Shackelford was selected from among several veteran defensive players by head coach Hugh Freeze and the Rebel coaching staff. The award is presented annually to an Ole Miss upperclassman defensive player that embodies the spirit of Mullins – courage, leadership, perseverance and determination.
Few student-athletes could embody those characteristics better than Shackelford. The Decatur, Ala., native has been awarded a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after he missed the entire 2011 and 2012 seasons due to knee injuries. In his two-year absence, he remained a vocal leader on the team and then returned to play a key role at both linebacker and defensive end last year. He is running with the first team at middle linebacker this spring.
“The impact that those two knee surgeries had on me, I kind of took on that spirit that Chucky displayed every day in the training room and different things I did. I never knew I would have that kind of connection with him,” Shackelford said after accepting the award Saturday.
“(My goal) was never just to come back. It was to come back and be something special and strive to be great on a daily basis, with the help of my teammates, coaches, family and all these different people that helped me in those two years. The first award I received on crutches. I was in tears, because I was ready to play, but it wasn’t my time to play. It’s the little things I’m able to appreciate now.”
“We had three guys that we felt were very deserving,” Freeze said. “We probably had more quality candidates this year than in the past couple of seasons that I’ve been here. I think (Shackelford) exemplifies the spirit and heart that Chucky did, and off the field the things he’s done, there’s no question he exemplifies it.”
Shackelford enters his final season as a Rebel with a laundry list of recognition both on and off the football field. As a player, he was an SEC All-Freshman pick way back in 2009 and was most recently honored on ESPN.com’s SEC All-Bowl team after the Rebels’ 25-17 win over Georgia Tech in the 2013 Music City Bowl. In three seasons, he has compiled 112 tackles with 18.5 TFLs and 7.0 sacks.
Off the field, he is one of the school’s most recognizable personalities and has been a campus leader in the area of community service. Among his many charity efforts have been pre-college counseling during the summer, numerous speaking engagements and mission trips to Panama and Haiti. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history in May 2012 and has nearly completed his master’s in education.
Former Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipients are Chris Mitchell, Jeff Carter, Trea Southerland, Johnny Dixon, Alundis Brice, Michael Lowery, Derek Jones, Nate Wayne, Gary Thigpen, Ronnie Heard, Anthony Magee, Kevin Thomas, Lanier Goethie, Jamil Northcutt, Eric Oliver, Kelvin Robinson, Patrick Willis, Jeremy Garrett, Jamarca Sanford, Marcus Tillman, Kentrell Lockett, Shackelford, Jason Jones and Mike Marry.
The Rebel coaching staff handed out a number of other awards during the Regions Bank Grove Bowl festivities, as listed below.
The Eli Manning Award – Collins Moore Presented to the most improved offensive football player based on spring practice performance in the area of spirit, leadership, hustle, determination and dependability.
The Jeff Hamm Memorial Award – Cliff Coleman Presented to the most improved defensive football player based on spring practice performance in the areas of spirit, leadership, hustle, determination and dependability.
The J. Richard Price Courage and Compassion Award – Carlton Martin This award is presented annually to the rising senior lineman who, in the opinion of his coaches, has demonstrated extraordinary courage and unusual compassion in his dedication to his team and to Ole Miss.
The John Howard Vaught Award of Excellence – Mike Marry Presented to a graduating senior athlete. Qualifications are dedication, scholastic ability, morale and performance.
Birmingham Alumni Club’s annual Leadership Award – Emmanuel McCray This award is a portrait awarded in recognition of a graduating senior football player for his leadership qualities both on and off the field.
Clower-Walters Scholarship – Andrew Ritter Established in 1974 by Jerry Clower to honor Carl Walters, a veteran Mississippi sportswriter. A plaque will be awarded to an outstanding graduating senior Ole Miss football player as selected by the coaching staff and a scholarship will be awarded in the name of the player selected.
The Eugenia Conner Memorial Award for Achievement – Valencia McFarland (Women’s Basketball) The award is presented to an outstanding junior or senior female athlete that exemplifies a true “Lady Rebel” with character and leadership both on and off the court/field.
— Ole Miss Sports Information
Photo’s by Andy Knef HottyToddy.com editor
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