By Adam Brown
Today marks the 28th anniversary of the passing of Ole Miss Rebel great Chucky Mullins.
Mullins was a defensive back for the Rebels who received a spinal injury against the Vanderbilt Commodores October 28, 1989. One play at the 6:57 mark of the first quarter changed the footprint of Ole Miss football forever.
On the hit, Mullins dislocated his fourth-fifth cervical vertebrae in his neck. He was paralyzed from the neck down.
“I’ve been an athletic trainer for more than 25 years,” said Rebels head athletic trainer Leroy Mullins, who tended to Mullins after the hit. “This is the worst on-the-field injury I have been involved with. It’s the type of situation you constantly worry about and hope you never have to face.”
On a third down and 20 from the Ole Miss 20-yard line, Vandy QB John Gromos attempted a pass to Brad Gaines over the middle; it fell incomplete as Mullins hit Gaines and both players fell to the ground. Mullins never got up from the play.
Mullins was airlifted to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The Russellville, Alabama native received a huge outpouring in support.
He returned to school June 20, 1990 to finish his undergraduate degree. He tragically passed away less than a year after due to a pulmonary embolism on May 6, 1991.
Mullins is remembered in the community through a variety of ways, including the Chucky Mullins Courage Award that recognizes an outstanding upperclassman, defensive player. This player gets to wear Mullins’ number, 38, during the upcoming season.
This year’s recipient is Austrian Robinson. The New York, New York native has appeared in 26 games on the Rebels’ defensive line. Robinson, who played in 11 games last season at both defensive tackle and defensive end, has 52 career tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss.
“(Robinson) has a blue collar mentality that everybody respects,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said. “From the way that he leads, he is very well respected and not flashy.”
Former Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipients 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, Deterrian Shackelford (twice), Jason Jones, Mike Marry, Mike Hilton, John Youngblood, Marquis Haynes and C.J. Moore.