Time Capsule

There can be no better example of the spirit of Chucky Mullins living on than Deterrian 'D.T.' Shackelford being a two-time winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award..

It's obligatory, the old rehash. . .

. . . spring, 2011. . . Rebs reeling from 2010 4-8 meltdown. . . LB D.T. Shackelford literally took over the team with a barrage of whatever it took to motivate his teammates. . . encouragement, cajoling, praise, criticism - all vocal, all powerful. . . there would be no repeat of '10 under his watch. . .

. . . a nothing play in a spring scrimmage. . . an awkward, freakish hit. . . then-Coach Houston Nutt turned as white as a ghost, knowing the ramifications. . . a D.T.-less, rudderless Rebel squad goes 2-10 without their leader. . . Nutt is ushered out. . .

. .. unsuccessful surgery claims one season. . . the fix of the non-fix claims another. . .Shackelford misses the first part of the resurrection of Reb football under new Coach Hugh Freeze. . .he harbors doubts of a return, but his deep faith keeps him digging deep, day after day, painful step after painful step. . .

. . . braced up and still showing signs of a limp, Shackelford is declared physically sound entering the 2013 season. . . he's going to give his passion, football, another try. . . at first, he's not the D.T. of old and looks more like an old D.T. . . slowly, but surely, as the season ticks on, he's flashing signs of regaining his old form. . .

. . . he discards the brace and its movement limitations - what is there to lose?. . . the knee loosens up, the smile and swagger return. . . he contributes where he can and ends up at DE in a Rebel bowl victory. . .in the offseason, he is granted a sixth year of eligibility and declares he will return, with a vengeance.

Mullins Award winner
File Photo

D.T. reinvents himself. He declares he wants to be called Deterrian - no more nicknames, time to put childish things away.

When spring training began, he was no longer an old Shackelford, he was the Shackleford of old.

Brimming with confidence, moving quickly and more decisively and imposing his infectious personality and leadership on the defense from his middle linebacker slot.

He wasn't executing perfectly, there were still things to learn in a defensive system he had played little in, but anyone with eyes could tell "it" was coming.

By the end of spring, Deterrian was awarded his second Chucky Mullins Courage Award honor and donned the coveted #38 jersey in Saturday's Grove Bowl.

A story almost as inspiring as the namesake of the award, a humbling experience to him.

"I'm honored and blessed that the coaches believe in me this much," he said. "I didn't think it was a possibility. It caught me off-guard. One time winning it was a surprise, two times is unbelievable.

"I am overwhelmed. I never thought I would have this kind of impact, especially since I wasn't even playing for two years. Growing up, you think your impact is going to be sacks and touchdowns, but to be honored in a different light is a blessing and very humbling."

His hope was bolstered by the way he ended the 2013 season and his non-negotiable will kept him grinding for more.

Deterrian Shackelford
File Photo

"I was in a good spot at the end of the season, but I want more. I'm going to keep working and working and keep getting better and better," he noted. "With the help of my teammates, that will happen."

In his mind, his spring was a success.

"With Mike Marry gone, the defense needed someone to step up at middle linebacker and take charge. It's a position with a lot of responsibility and I like that, I want that," Shackelford continued. "We have the nucleus of a great team and I want to be a part of it.

"I am so impressed with the talent on this team, especially the young guys, and what's even more satisfying is how humble and coachable they are. They all accept coaching, they all accept guidance from those guiding them and they all want to get better. I have the utmost respect for all of them, from the five star guys on down."

Deterrian knew this spring was going to be a meat grinder. He also knew it was needed if the Rebs were to make another step in their journey to the top.

"Nothing the coaches asked of us was unrealistic," he explained. "What we are shooting for in 2014 is not a dream. It's not a maybe.

"We know we can do it. We know we can go to the top. We have the pieces to the puzzle. We just have to pay the price and part of the price was a very physical spring."

Chucky Mullins coined a term prior to the 1989 Liberty Bowl when he whispered "It's time."

Air Force did not stand a chance that night. That band of inspired Rebels, playing for their fallen comrade, would not be denied.

Deterrian has similar thoughts, borrowing a page from the Mullins book.

"The time is now," he closed. "We have a lot of veterans coming back, we have great chemistry, we have young talent ready to make their marks.

"We just have to keep working and stay humble. Forget the hype, stay focused and stay humble. It's there for the taking."

Deterrian Shackelford will be, literally, in the middle of the struggle, proudly displaying his '38' jersey.

There is no more deserving, or better, captain steering a ship through the treacherous waters of the SEC.

From Chucky to Detterian.

It all makes perfect sense.

OM Spirit Top Stories