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Who Will Be The 2017 Chucky Mullins Courage Award Recipient?

Before Saturday’s Grove Bowl, the 2017 winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award will be announced. The award is given each year to a deserving defensive senior leader that embodies the courage and leadership qualities that Mullins displayed during his time at Ole Miss both before and after his tragic injury. Mullins lived by the quote that bears his name on the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium; “Never Quit.” 
His spirit, positive attitude and determination in the face of incredible adversity spread throughout the Ole Miss and Oxford community. His story and legend continued to grow as then-President George Bush and Mississippi Native & NFL Hall-of-Famer Walter Payton came to meet Chucky while he was in the hospital. Mullins continued to persevere and did not let his injury define him, and he worked to return to Ole Miss to finish his degree. Upon his return to Ole Miss, Mullins suffered complications from a blood clot and passed away at the age of 21. 
While there are many tributes to Mullins around the Ole Miss campus, and his story has been recounted numerous times, there is perhaps no better way to honor his legacy than a player donning the #38 for the Ole Miss Rebel football team, and leading the tenacious Rebel defense into battle. 
This year there are 12 seniors in the Ole Miss defensive depth chart, with several deserving of the coveted award. Kendarius Webster is looking for a bounce back year as returns from a torn ACL in 2017, DeMarquis Gates has led the team in tackles for the previous two seasons, C.J. Hampton has been a steady presence in the defensive backfield during his career, but to me the choice is clear. 
Marquis Haynes is back for his senior year, and after watching the defense deteriorate in 2016, Haynes is ready to lead this group back to prominence. With 24.5 career sacks, Haynes has had a knack for providing a spark for the Rebels when they need it the most. As a senior, Haynes will undoubtedly be asked to step up as a leader and show the young guys who it’s done. Throughout the spring, Haynes has looked like a man on a mission, and when he has spoken, he sounds ready to take charge. 
“We use [last season] as motivation because we knew that wasn’t the defense we were expecting to be, so this year we’re going to be the “Landshark” defense,” Haynes said after a day of spring practice. 
Recent honorees of the coveted award include Mike Marry, D.T. Shackleford, Mike Hilton, and John Youngblood. Perhaps the most notable to represent Chuck was Patrick Willis back in 2006. The Chucky Mullins Award Banquet is set for Saturday at 7:30 a.m. 
A full list of the award’s recipients can be seen below. 
Chris Mitchell (1990)
Jeff Carter (1991)
Trea Southerland (1992)
Johnny Dixon (1993)
Alundis Brice (1994)
Michael Lowery (1995)
Derek Jones (1996)
Nate Wayne (1997)
Gary Thigpen (1998)
Ronnie Heard (1999)
Anthony Magee (2000)
Kevin Thomas (2001)
Lanier Goethie (2002)
Jamil Northcutt (2003)
Eric Oliver (2004)
Kelvin Robinson (2005)
Patrick Willis (2006)
Jeremy Garrett (2007)
Jamarca Sanford (2008)
Marcus Tillman (2009)
Kentrell Lockett (2010)
D.T. Shackelford (2011)
Jason Jones (2012)
Mike Marry (2013)
D.T. Shackelford (2014)
Mike Hilton (2015)
John Youngblood (2016)

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.
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