Bond Of Courage

Jason Jones, announced Thursday as the 2012 recipient of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, shares a bond with last year's winner, D.T. Shackelford. Both have battled injury.

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And not in a small way. Shackelford was on crutches a year ago as he accepted the award following reconstructive knee surgery. This year, Shackelford was on those crutches again, following yet another surgery.

Jones, meanwhile, has been well enough to make it through spring practice after an ACL surgery and rehab of his own.

It's been those times the duo has come to understand what the Chucky Mullins Courage Award is all about.

"D.T. has always been someone who has brought passion to the table since he's been here," Jones said. "Some people say me and him are brothers, because we act so much alike. I'm thankful I know D.T. Shackelford."

Shackelford concurred.

"He's a person that deserves the award," Shackelford said of Jones. "The way he carries himself on and off the field. We give each other encouragement all the time."

The selection of Jones was announced by head coach Hugh Freeze during Thursday night's Chucky Mullins Courage Award Banquet, which is sponsored each year by Phi Beta Sigma and Phi Kappa Psi fraternities. Former college and NFL standout and current CBS college football analyst Spencer Tillman was the night's guest speaker.

Jones said he feels pretty healthy right now as spring practice wraps up.

"My health right now is looking pretty good," he said. "It's getting back to where I want it to be. Sometimes I have a little knee swelling. But I continue to keep going, because whatever day I can practice is a good day. I haven't missed any in a while, and I'm just thankful I can get out there and get better."

Jones said it hadn't quite sunk in that he'd won the right to wear No. 38 Thursday night.

Jason Jones, Ross Bjork
Joey Brent

"It's a little too early," he said. "It's something to accomplish a goal in life and that you set high standards for. To achieve it, it's a blessing."

Jones said he actually started planning to win the award even before he signed with the Rebels.

"On my visit," he said. "I came and visited, didn't know anything about Ole Miss. Didn't even know it was in Mississippi. Then when I came on the visit, I saw the tradition of Chucky Mullins and No. 38. I said right then I'm going to wear that.

"I'm going to wear it to the best of my ability and the ability God has blessed me with."

A two-year letterman from Albany, Ga., Jones has played in 21 games with five starts over the last two seasons. Last year, he battled through an early-season injury to be a force on the defensive line late in the year. In 2010, he tied for fourth in the SEC in fumble recoveries and finished fourth on the team in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss.

Off the field, Jones is a psychology major and has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He has volunteered at the annual National Student-Athlete Day Community Service Project and the Special Olympics. He is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership team and leads a Bible study group with his teammates. Jones also mentors local elementary school children and is an active member of the "Reading with the Rebels" program. He recently received the Hotty Toddy Award at the 2012 Rebels' Choice Awards for his passionate spirit for Ole Miss Football.

Jones joins 22 others to receive the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. They include 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 and Shackelford.

Shackelford said there is no doubt Jones is worthy to wear it.

"Just to have people like Jason Jones to represent your team, put that Ole Miss on his chest, these are the type people you want," the 2011 winner said. "They help you win in life. It's the game of life we really need to be concerned about. Football is just a small portion."

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