Last night, senior defensive end Jason Jones was awarded the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, meaning that he will join a long line of accomplished Rebel defenders to have won the award - including Jamarca Sanford, Ronnie Heard, and Patrick Willis - and wear the #38 jersey on the field this fall.
"Many people don't get this opportunity, so it's very important to me. To represent Chucky Mullins with the No. 38 is a privilege and an honor," said Jones during his acceptance speech.
Jones' selection is a bit of an unusual one, in that he hasn't been particularly active as a Rebel footballer. He's a two-year letterwinner, but only has five starts. He was injured for much of the season last year, but did see significant minutes during the final stretch of games.
He has been particularly active off of the field, however. From the OleMissSports.com mothership:
[Jones] has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll. He has volunteered at the annual National Student-Athlete Day Community Service Project and the Special Olympics. He is a member of the Fellow of Christian Athletes leadership team and leads a Bible study group with his teammates. Jones also mentors local elementary school children and is an active member of the "Reading with the Rebels" program. He recently received the Hotty Toddy Award at the 2012 Rebels' Choice Awards for his passionate spirit for Ole Miss Football.
It is in the spirit of the award as a reminder of Chucky's impact off of the field that Jones was awarded the prize, something which I fully support. Allow me to digress just a bit, though:
Not to at all take away from Jones' accomplishment, but I would love to see this award go back to what coach Billy Brewer intendd it to be, and that's an award for the most accomplished and respected senior defensive back. While I have no doubt that the coaches are happy to have chosen Jones and that Jones is truly honored and humbled to receive the award, it simply doesn't seem right that a defensive end has received an award named in honor of a defensive back. Of course, due to several years of bad defensive back recruiting and even worse retention, such isn't exactly something to which Ole Miss is privileged at the moment. From its original criteria of "senior defensive back," the award was pared down to "senior defender" and then "upperclassman defender." These sorts of minutiae are simply symptomatic a football program as unstable as ours has been.
Yes, you can blame Houston Nutt for this if it makes you feel better.
My personal desires as a fan aside, though, many congratulations are in order for Jason Jones. I know he'll wear #38 with pride, and I assure you that we Rebel fans are proud to have him as a part of our football program.