Honoring Chucky

To the surprise and cheers of a near-capacity crowd inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday, the No. 10 Ole Miss football team wore powder blue helmets for the first time since 1994.

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“Everything was for him,” senior linebacker D.T. Shackelford, a two-time winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award said, “and the way he represented this program and the way that this community has flocked towards him and his demeanor and courage. Everything was about him. We’re glad that we were able to come out and play well for him.”

The replica helmets, which were kept secret right up until kickoff against Memphis at 6:30 p.m., are of the ones worn by the Rebels in 1989, the year the late Chucky Mullins was injured and paralyzed during a game against Vanderbilt.

The lighter blue helmets were worn from 1948-77 and then again from 1983-94. Ole Miss wore Navy blue from 1978-82 and have been since 1995.

“We are calling this weekend, ‘It’s Time,’ in celebration of the life and spirit of Chucky Mullins,” Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said in a release. “We’re excited about this. It’s a great way to remember him during the 25th year after his accident. We’re proud to continue his spirit here at the University of Mississippi.”

This weekend acted as a memorial of sorts for Mullins, whose iconic No. 38 is worn each season by the winner of the Chucky Mullins Courage Aware, given out at the end of practices each spring.

Mullins was enshrined in the Ole Miss M-Club Hall of Fame Friday night along with five other great from past Rebel teams, including former cornerback Ken Lucas.

Coliseum Drive on the Ole Miss campus was also renamed Chucky Mullins drive in a dedication in front of the Robert C. Khayat Law Center. Speakers included Bjork, Chancellor Dan Jones, former Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer and senior linebacker D.T. Shackelford.

Brewer, as well as members of Mullins’ family, led fans in attendance for the weekly pregame ‘Are You Ready?’ The Rebels also donned helmets with Mullins’ No. 38 on one side, calling back to Nov. 4, 1989 against LSU, when they did the same one week after his tragic injury.

“We were at a team meeting,” sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who finished with five catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns, said of the reveal of the helmets. “(Ole Miss head) Coach (Hugh) Freeze, he always comes in with a gift. We expected something bad. He pulled out this big box and then pulled out a blue helmet. We were all shocked. No one said anything, and then we all started going crazy.”

Ole Miss moved to 4-0 following a 24-3 win over Memphis. The Rebels return to action at home against Alabama in a week. ESPN’s flagship college football program, College GameDay, will be on hand.

“Chucky would have been proud of the helmets and particularly how the defense played,” Freeze said. “He would have loved that. We’ll continue to honor his character traits: his selflessness and his attitude about life against adversity.”

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