OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Ole Miss announced its spring football awards on Saturday, highlighted by senior linebacker Mike Marry receiving the prestigious Chucky Mullins Courage Award.
Marry became the 24th recipient of the award during a breakfast ceremony prior to the BancorpSouth Grove Bowl. He will wear Mullins' No. 38 jersey throughout the 2013 season.
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.
Marry was selected from among several veteran defensive players by Hugh Freeze and the Rebel coaching staff. The award is presented annually to an Ole Miss upperclassman defensive player that embodies the spirit of Mullins - courage, leadership, perseverance and determination.
"It's a great honor to be a part of this tradition," Marry said. "Not many people get the chance to do it and it comes with a lot of responsibility, but I feel that the coaches believe that I can handle them, so I am glad that they chose me. It will make me try to go harder and make sure that I do all the little things right because I have more eyes on me now."
"Mike understands how to be the best teammate on the field and off the field," Freeze said. "He not only plays with great energy and passion, but he understands that building a team and being a leader on the team also requires you to make the proper decisions off the field. He does that very well and expects to hold others to the same standards. Whoever wears 38 has to understand that, and he gets it very clearly."
A three-year letterman, Marry has been the Rebels' starting middle linebacker for the last two seasons. He enters his senior year with 181 tackles, including 18.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He also has three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and an interception. After a huge game in the Rebels' 38-17 BBVA Compass Bowl win over Pitt, Marry was named to ESPN.com's SEC All-Bowl Team. He was a third team All-SEC pick in 2011 after racking up a team-high 81 tackles.
Off the field, Marry maintains a 2.65 GPA as an exercise science major and has participated in several community service efforts in the Oxford area.
Marry joins 22 former Ole Miss Rebels and one current teammate 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, Jeremy Garrett, Jamarca Sanford, Marcus Tillman, Kentrell Lockett, D.T. Shackelford and Jason Jones.
The Rebel coaching staff handed out a number of other awards during the BancorpSouth Grove Bowl festivities, as listed below.
The Eli Manning Award - I'Tavius Mathers
Presented to the most improved Offensive Football Player based on Spring Practice Performance in the area of Spirit, Leadership, Hustle, Determination and Dependability.
The Jeff Hamm Memorial Award - Chief Brown
Presented to the most improved Defensive Football Player based on Spring Practice Performance in the areas of Spirit, Leadership, Hustle, Determination and Dependability.
The J. Richard Price Courage and Compassion Award - Evan Swindall
This award is presented annually to the rising senior lineman who, in the opinion of his coaches, has demonstrated extraordinary courage and unusual compassion in his dedication to his team and to Ole Miss.
The John Howard Vaught Award of Excellence - Ferbia Allen
Presented to a graduating senior athlete. Qualifications are Dedication, Scholastic Ability, Morale and Performance.
Birmingham Alumni Club's annual Leadership Award - Jason Jones
This award is a portrait awarded in recognition of a graduating senior football player for his leadership qualities both on and off the field.
Clower-Walters Scholarship - Devin Thomas
Established in 1974 by Jerry Clower to honor Carl Walters, a veteran Mississippi sportswriter. A plaque will be awarded to an outstanding graduating senior Ole Miss football player as selected by the coaching staff and a scholarship will be awarded in the name of the player selected.
The Eugenia Conner Memorial Award for Achievement - Katie Breathitt (Track/Cross Country)
The award is presented to an outstanding junior or senior female athlete that exemplifies a true "Lady Rebel" with character and leadership both on and off the court/field.