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Ole Miss football defensive back Keidron Smith wins 2021 Chucky Mullins award

Never quit.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss football announced Saturday that Keidron Smith would be the recipient of the 2021 Chucky Mullins Courage award.

This award honors Mullins, who was paralyzed in the Rebels’ 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt. Every year, Ole Miss football picks an upperclassman defensive player that embodies the same courage, perseverance, and determination that Chucky Mullins had. The player typically wears the No. 38, but this year, Smith has decided to switch things up.

The defensive back from West Palm Beach, Florida has decided to forgo the honor of wearing the No. 38 and instead will wear a patch on his No. 20 jersey. The last recipient who decided to do this was Patrick Willis.

“This is a huge honor to win this award,” Smith said. “It’s just a blessing to know that 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.”

Smith, recently switched positions from corner to safety and is looking to have a breakout season for his senior year.

The 6-foot-2 defensive back finished the 2020 season with 38 solo tackles, one interception, and six pass deflections. Smith made the move this offseason to safety after three seasons as the starting cornerback for Ole Miss. He had 22 career starts in his career at the position, but had no problem stepping into his new role.

“I always wanted to play it. That’s why I was eager to jump on it,” Smith said. “In high school I asked. They told me no, they just wanted me to play corner.”

Smith becomes the 31st recipient of the award and joins a dominant player in 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 (who received the award twice!), Jason Jones, Mike Marry, Mike Hilton, John Youngblood, Marquis Haynes, C.J. Moore, Austrian Robinson, and Jaylon Jones.