Defensive back Keidron Smith Named 2021 Chucky Mullins Courage Award Winner
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss senior defensive back Keidron Smith has been named the winner of the 2021 Chucky Mullins Courage Award, as announced Saturday morning.
“This is a huge honor to win this award,” Smith said.
“It’s just a blessing to know my coaches and teammates thought I was the right guy for this. To be able to be linked with the Chucky Mullins Award for the rest of my life is truly special. I’m going to go out there and do my best to keep up his legacy.“
Keidron Smith on being named Chucky Mullins Courage Award Winner
A native of West Palm Beach, Florida, Smith becomes the 31st recipient in the 32-year history of the award. Smith will wear a patch on his No. 20 jersey rather than switch numbers. A patch was also worn by the recipients from 2006-2010.
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 May 6, 1991.
Keidron was selected from among several veteran defensive players by head coach Lane Kiffin 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.
“Keidron has provided tremendous leadership and dedication for our program,” Kiffin said.
“His willingness to embrace any role necessary to help the team is remarkable and we are excited to recognize him with this distinguished honor.“
Coach Lane Kiffin on Keidron Smith
Keidron has appeared in every game for Ole Miss since arriving on campus in 2018, including 22 starts. Smith, a two-year starter, notched 64 tackles last season and finished second on the team in pass breakups.
Coach Kiffin commented on the decision for Keidron to wear a patch as opposed to the No. 38.
“In discussing the award with potential candidates, it was clear that many of them have personal connections with their own jersey number,” Kiffin said. “While we have the highest respect for Chucky’s No. 38, we also understand what these players’ numbers can mean to them and their families, and we didn’t want a deserving candidate to sacrifice that in order to receive this great honor. After discussions with former players close to Chucky and the award, we decided to give the winner the option to wear either the number or the patch.
“Chucky’s legacy will always have tremendous meaning to our program and everyone in the Ole Miss family, and we hope this decision will help ensure that the award winner each year is the player that most embodies the spirit of Chucky.“
Former Chucky Mullins Courage Award recipients are Chris Mitchell, Jeff Carter, Trea Southerland, Johnny Dixon, Alundis Brice, Michael Lowery, Derek Jones, Nate Wayne, Gary Thigpen, 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, C.J. Moore, Austrian Robinson, Jaylon Jones.
(Photo credit Josh McCoy, graphic: Nick Filipich, Rebel Walk)
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.