Sanford wins Chucky Mullins Award

Batesville Senior Strong Safety Jamarca Sanford was selected the 2008 Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner last night.

OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss defensive back Jamarca Sanford of Batesville, Miss., has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, which goes to a rising senior defensive player each year.

The award, sponsored by Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, honors the late Chucky Mullins, who had his Ole Miss career come to an end during the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt when he was paralyzed after making a tackle. After returning to his studies at Ole Miss, Mullins passed away on May 6, 1991.

The selection of Sanford was announced during Friday night's 19th annual Chucky Mullins Courage Award Banquet, which is sponsored each year by Phi Beta Sigma and Phi Kappa Psi fraternities. Sanford will be recognized Saturday afternoon when Ole Miss conducts its annual Red-Blue spring football game, set for 1:00 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field.

"Our players are very excited that Jamarca received the award," said new head football coach Houston Nutt. "Heart, attitude and toughness best describes why Jamarca is so deserving of this award. He's a giver. From everything I heard tonight during the documentary about Chucky, I don't think we could have picked a better person. The baton has been passed to Jamarca, and it's an awesome honor and responsibility."

"I'm so grateful to receive this award," Sanford said. "It means a lot to me. If we can come together as a team and play like Chucky played, we can be very good. My heart was beating so hard during the film and I really didn't know who would get the award, because we have players like Peria Jerry, Dustin Mouzon and Terrell Jackson who are so deserving."

As part of the banquet program, the audience, including Nutt's entire coaching staff, viewed a shorten version of Micah Ginn's documentary, "Undefeated: The Chucky Mullins Story," which follows Mullins from his childhood days in Russellville, Ala., to earning a Southeastern Conference scholarship and playing for the Ole Miss Rebels.

"I'm so glad that now, we as coaches, understand the Chucky Mullins story so much better," Nutt said. "This was the first time that I heard the entire story and it's really moving. I'm glad our players and coaches were here. I've always admired that number 38 and I knew it was for someone special, but until you sit down and listen to the story, you just don't know the impact that Chucky Mullins has had on this program and on this school and the players. This was a moving night."

Sanford, who wears No. 13, will have the honor of wearing a "38" patch on his jersey during his senior campaign. Mullins wore No. 38 as a player at Ole Miss.

A three-year letterman, Sanford will enter his senior season with 205 total tackles, including 121 solo hits. He also has 10 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one blocked punt, which resulted in a touchdown by Kendrick Lewis. During his three years with the Rebels, he has played in 31 games, staring all 31.

As a junior in 2007, Sanford ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference with 8.3 tackles per game and finished third on the team in total tackles (83), fourth in tackles for loss (5.5) and pass break-ups.

Sanford earned third-team Freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2005 when he was also a first-team Freshman All-SEC pick. He topped all SEC freshmen in tackles that year and was 12th among all league defensive backs, helping the Rebel defense finish the season 14th in the nation in pass defense, 27th in total defense and 31st in scoring defense.

Sanford joins 18 former Ole Miss Rebels 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 and Jeremy Garrett.

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