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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2007
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Garrett carries Rebel courage
Chucky Mullins continues
to inspire at Ole Miss

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

When times are tough on the football field, Jeremy Garrett looks at his right his shoulder.

If he is tired, or misses a tackle, the patch on this upper arm reminds him to hang in a little longer.

The oval-shaped "38" patch honors the life of late Rebels defensive back Roy Lee "Chucky" Mullins.

"You face adversity every game," Garrett said. "You face adversity every time in a game when a play doesn't go your way. You have to keep fighting."

The story is well-known in Mississippi folklore. A native of Russellville, Mullins went to Ole Miss in 1988, where he played as the team's "nickel" back near the end of his freshman year.

On Oct. 28, 1989, Ole Miss was
playing Vanderbilt and tragedy struck Mullins.

As he tackled Vanderbilt fullback Brad Gaines Mullins' head hit Gaines' back and Mullins shattered four of his vertebrae in his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

During Mullins' months of rehab, he attained a cult-like following at Ole Miss. Among others, former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton and President George H.W. Bush visited him. Eventually, Mullins returned to class in January 1991.

But, May 1, 1991, Mullins stopped breathing and was rushed to the hospital. He died five days later from complications resulting from a blood clot.

While Mullins' time as a Rebel was cut short by tragedy, reminders of him remain throughout the Ole Miss football program. When players run out of the Ole Miss locker room, they pass a bust of Mullins. Beneath the head is a concrete slab inscribed with the words "Never Quit."

Until last season, a defensive player selected before the season was given the honor of wearing Mullins' No. 38 jersey. The jersey was retired in 2006, and now the player wears the aforementioned patch.

“It’s an amazing story of his courage,” said Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron, “and the type of person he was before his injury, and he still remained that guy after and how he gave the state of Mississippi courage.”

Before the season, at the award banquet, Garrett won the Chucky Mullins Courage Award allowing him the honor to wear the patch. The award is given to the player who displays character and courage on and off the field.

Growing up in Senatobia, Miss., Garrett likened the Mullins award to the “Heisman in Mississippi.”

When Garrett’s name was announced at the banquet, he said he didn’t cry, he was just “awed.” He said his mother Rita was in full tear-flow mode.

Garrett, a 6-foot-1, 290 pound lineman, adds to the long legacy of defensive players to hold the awards, starting with Hazlewood grad Chris Mitchell, the first award winner in 1990, and with Nate Wayne and San Francisco 49ers 2007 first-round pick Patrick Willis, the 2006 award recipient.

“I think there is always pressure when you represent Chucky,” Garrett said. “I wish I still could wear the 38, but I think it was a good thing they retired his number. He deserved it. Wearing that patch is about an attitude you have. To never give up and give it all you have.

Alabama at Ole Miss

Saturday
11:45 a.m.
WZDX-5
4

Five things you may not know about Ole Miss football

  • Left tackle Michael Oher was the subject of a book called “The Blind Side.” The book, written by Michael Lewis, documented Oher’s life and the tragedy he overcame to get to Ole Miss.

  • Vaught Hemingway Stadium will be the only game this season where Alabama will play on FieldTurf.

  • Ole Miss named Seth Adams the starter eight days before the season. The kicker is that Adams is a former walk-on who transferred to Ole Miss from Hinds (Miss.) Community College. Adams ranks fourth in the SEC in total offense with 225.0 yards per game.

  • Ole Miss defensive coordinator John Thompson was Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator at LSU ... for one month. Saban hired Thompson, who then decided
    to go back to his home in Arkansas.

  • Ole Miss’ 24-point win over Louisiana Tech was the Rebels’ largest margin over an opponent under coach Ed Orgeron.

    Josh Cooper,
    Daily Sports Writer

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