Keidron Smith was named the Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner on Saturday by Ole Miss football on its social media profiles.
In years past, the award winner changed his jersey number to No. 38, the jersey numeral worn by the late Chucky Mullins, but this season, the program is reverting back to utilizing a jersey patch instead of changing numbers.
Mullins was a defensive standout at Ole Miss before his career was halted in Ole Miss' 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt when he was paralyzed after making a tackle.
"This is a huge honor to win this award," Smith said via an Ole Miss press release. "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."
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As far as swapping from changing jersey numbers to a patch, this decision came down to personal ties.
"In discussing the award with potential candidates, it was clear that many of them have personal connections with their own jersey number," head coach Lane 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 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."
Smith has played in each game since he arrived on campus at Ole Miss in 2018 and has started in 22 contests. He led the Rebel defense in tackles last season with 64.
Ole Miss will kick off its season on Monday against Louisville at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
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