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John Youngblood wins Ole Miss' 2016 Chucky Mullins Courage Award

The senior defensive lineman will wear the legendary No. 38 jersey this fall.

Michael Chang/Getty Images

Senior defensive end John Youngblood will be rocking the No. 38 jersey this fall for Ole Miss. Youngblood was named the 2016 Chucky Mullins Award winner on Saturday morning during a banquet held every year at the close of spring practice.

We at the Cup, for what it's worth, think it's a well-deserved. Youngblood, a career backup, has been an underrated contributor for years. It's difficult to write about his career without falling back on those tired old cliches that PFT Commenter so hilariously skewers, but dammit, if I saw John Youngblood carrying a lunch pale off the practice field I can't say I'd be surprised. The narrative of the hardworking overachiever sticks in this case because, well, it's true.

"Why do people always forget about John?" D-coordinator Dave Wommack asked of the Ole Miss Spirit a few weeks ago. "He is way more valuable than he gets credit for. He's not a flashy player, but I guarantee you he's not going to make mistakes and what you ask him to do, he does. There's more value to that than people realize."

When Youngblood made his Ole Miss debut in 2013 against LSU, he sent the fans in Vaught-Hemingway reaching for their programs, collectively muttering, "Who the hell is this white dude with long hair?" The Rebs were missing five defensive starters and had been left for dead against the No. 6 Tigers, but the no-name defense held LSU to 3.3 yards per carry and forced three turnovers in a dramatic, program-shifting win in Hugh Freeze's second year. That's been Youngblood's M.O. ever since: quietly providing depth along the defensive line whenever it's needed.

"I'm not as good of an athlete as the other guys at my position, but I've worked hard to get on the field," Youngblood told the Spirit. "I've worked hard to get to this point of being relevant and it's been a blessing for me.

"Coach Freeze and Coach (Chris) Kiffin gave me a shot to play big-time college football and to come here. I was one of the last guys to get here, but I did what I needed to do to get a chance to show I can help the team."

What's this award for, again?

The award, of course, is named after former Rebel cornerback Chucky Mullins, who was paralyzed during a game in 1989. Despite his physical disabilities, he returned to Oxford 14 months later to enroll in classes, his determination and perseverance becoming a source of inspiration among the Ole Miss community and America at large. Chucky's dream of earning his degree was tragically cut short on May 6, 1991 when he passed away from complications of a blood clot. If you haven't seen the fantastic SEC Storied episode on Chucky, I highly recommend you fork up the $1.99 to watch in on YouTube.

The award is handed out each season for, as the athletic department puts it, "the Ole Miss upperclassman defensive player that embodies the spirit of Mullins: courage, leadership, perseverance and determination."

Previous Chucky Mullins Courage Award Winners

2015: Mike Hilton
2014: D.T. Shackelford
2013: Mike Marry
2012: Jason Jones
2011: D.T. Shackelford
2010: Kentrell Lockett
2009: Marcus Tillman
2008: Jamarca Sanford
2007: Jeremy Garrett
2006: Patrick Willis
2005: Kelvin Robinson
2004: Eric Oliver
2003: Jamil Northcutt
2002: Lanier Goethie
2001: Kevin Thomas
2000: Anthony Magee
1999: Ronnie Heard
1998: Gary Thigpen
1997: Nate Wayne
1996: Derek Jones
1995: Michael Lowery
1994: Alundis Brice
1993: Johnny Dixon
1992: Trea Southerland
1991: Jeff Carter
1990: Chris Mitchell