Senior Middle Linebacker Patrick Willis said the first time he went to the Chucky Mullins Courage Award Banquet when he was a true freshman at Ole Miss, he watched the film of Chucky's life and felt a kindred spirit in the room.
"Chucky and I had to overcome similar backgrounds with broken homes and we play the game the same way, all out," said Willis as he stood at the podium embracing his plaque naming him the recipient of the 17th Annual Chucky Mullins Courage Award. "I watched the film and said to myself 'he's a lot like me.'
"I'm really honored tonight and will do everything in my power to uphold what Chucky stood for on and off the field."
Few doubt Willis, who was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 and is considered one of the Top 10 returning players in college football for 2006, will do that and more.
"Patrick exemplifies everything Chucky stood for," said Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron. "There's no doubt in my mind he will represent this award as well as anyone has in the past or as well as anyone will in the future. He is a special player and a special person, just like Chucky was."
Chucky's roommate at Ole Miss, Derrick King, was the keynote speaker. In his brief statements, he spoke of Chucky's courage, character, friendship and, most often, his contagious smile.
"Sometimes Chucky was almost too positive," King smiled. "I never saw him have a bad day. He was always there for you. What was his, was yours and none of us had a lot. He would listen to everything you were going through and be there for you. And I have never met a more courageous person in my life, before he got to Ole Miss, during his playing time and after his tragic injury.
"I don't know if I will ever meet anyone as special as Chucky."
Former recipient Jeff Carter spoke briefly on the meaning of wearing the coveted jersey, number 38.
"It's the highest honor you can have as an Ole Miss Rebel because of what Chucky stood for and what that number represents," he said. "I was honored to give up my number 11 that I wore representing Ole Miss for three years in order to have the chance to represent Chucky's number 38 for one year."
Willis, affectionately known as P-Willie, was given a plaque naming him the 2006 winner and a framed #38 jersey.
A fitting winner for a prestigious honor and award.
Willis wins Mullins Award
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