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Jones named Chucky Mullins Award Winner

Austin McAfe/The Daily Mississippian

 

 

Following the tragic ending of Chucky Mullins’ football career, the award was established in the spring of 1980 by the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at Ole Miss to honor the legacy of Mullins. 

Mullins was paralyzed during the 1989 Homecoming football game against Vanderbilt after making a tackle. He died on May 6, 1991.

Since the award’s beginning, an upperclassman defensive player who shows the courage, heart and integrity that Mullins did has received that honor.

“First and foremost, I just want to give thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity to represent Chucky Mullins as this is a very prestigious reward,” Jones said immediately after receiving the award. “I just thank the guys before me that have paved the way to this night. “

Jones, who has been injured throughout his football career dating back to high school, took the saying “Never Quit!” from the Mullins’ bust that sits at the Rebels’ entrance into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

In fact, Jones said last year’s winner junior linebacker D.T. Shackelford walked to class with him everyday through the football field, and each day, Jones would walk up to the “Never Quit!” sign and touch it three times and point to the sky. He said that motivated him every day.

“To accomplish a goal in life and to achieve it, it’s just a blessing,” Jones said. And sometimes, it’s overwhelming because you forget that every day you’re working towards one goal. To receive it is like, ‘Wow, I accomplished one of my goals in life.’”

Jones said he had actually been striving for the goal ever since he visited Ole Miss back in high school.

“On my visit, I came and didn’t know anything about Ole Miss,” Jones said. “I didn’t even know it was in Mississippi. Then when I came on the visit, it was like tradition: Chucky Mullins, No. 38. I said to myself, ‘If I come here, I’m going to wear that,’”

And he will. Actually, he’ll be the first player to play in games wearing the number for a while. Up until 2006, the winner of the award received the honor of wearing Mullins’ No. 38 the following season, but in 2006, it was retired. That is until last season.

Shackelford was supposed to be the one to bring the No. 38 back the playing field, but he was sidelined for the season with an ACL injury that he received the week of the award presentation.

But now, Jones will bring No. 38 back.

“Everything was done in good faith in trying to give Chucky Mullins and his legacy its just,” assistant athletics director for internal operations Jamil Northcutt, who won the award in 2003 said of retiring the number for a few years. “But as it was retired, conversation had died down about its legacy. We valued what Chucky did; we value the players that have worn the uniform. 

“That is something we felt we need to put back out there to bring the recognition and notoriety back to the legacy.”

Jones will now get the opportunity to leave his mark on Ole Miss football.

“I’m going to do the best I can to represent Chucky Mullins,” Jones said. “Each and every day – whether it’s at practice, in the weight room, on the field, in the film room, whatever it may be. Thank you, and God bless.”