OXFORD, Miss. — Marquis Haynes never dreamed he would have a chance to wear No. 38, but it is now a reality. On Saturday morning in front of his own teammates, as well as friends and family members of the late Chucky Mullins, along with former winners, Haynes listened as head coach Hugh Freeze named the senior defensive end the winner of the 2017 Chucky Mullins Courage Award.
The award honors the late Chucky Mullins, whose Ole Miss career came to an end during the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt after he was paralyzed following a tackle he made. After returning to school at Ole Miss, Mullins passed away May 6, 1991.
Haynes became the 27th different recipient in the 28-year history of the award.
As a freshman, Haynes did not see himself wearing No. 38 in his final season of college football. He didn’t start to believe he could win it until defensive end Herbert Moore, Haynes’ former roommate and current teammate, told Haynes back when they were sophomores that anything is possible.
“He said, ‘Marquis, you can maybe win this award, you know, in your senior year.’ I said ‘Naw, that’s never going to happen,” Haynes recalls saying.
“We have dudes like Ken Webster, DeMarquis Gates, and Tayler Polk. Everyone was well deserving of this award.”
Marquis Haynes on the Chucky Mullins Award
Coach Freeze mentioned it was tough decision to make as he felt he could have picked any other senior, but ultimately Freeze concluded Haynes deserved it more than anyone else. Haynes calls the honor “the best one I have ever gotten since I came to Ole Miss.”
“This is better than getting All-freshman SEC, and all of that other stuff. This award right here means the most to me.”
Marquis Haynes on winning the Chucky Mullins Courage Award
Haynes returns for senior season
After the 2016 season, many thought Haynes might declare early and enter the NFL Draft; however, he opted to return for his final season to lead the Landshark Defense. He currently ranks third in school history with 24.5 sacks and fourth with 36.5 tackles for loss.
The Rebels must replace the edge production of departing starters John Youngblood and Fadol Brown. Brown was one of Ole Miss’ best defensive players when he came back from injury, recording six tackles for loss and two and a half sacks for the season.
Juniors Victor Evans and Garrald McDowell, sophomore Shawn Curtis, redshirt freshman Charles Wiley, Syracuse transfer Qaadir Sheppard, and junior college transfer and early enrollee Ryder Anderson will look to fill those spots once fall camp and the 2017-18 season gets here.
Regardless of who joins him on the field, Marquis Haynes will be a leader for the Ole Miss defense, carrying on in the proud tradition of Chucky Mullins.
(Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk)