Published on August 26th, 2014 | by Carver Rayburn0
It’s Time! Two-time Chucky Mullins Award Winner D.T. Shackelford is Ready
University, Miss. (TLV) – The World. That’s how linebacker Deterrian Shackelford described what being the only two-time Chucky Mullins Courage Award winner meant to him. The World.
The rare sixth-year senior was poised (and may still be) to be an Ole Miss legend after stellar freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2009, Shackelford was named to the SEC All-Freshman team after posting 20 tackles and returning an interception for a touchdown. He followed that up with a sophomore campaign where he finished 13th in the SEC in sacks with five.
As spring practice was wrapping up during his junior year at Ole Miss, the Decatur, Alabama, native went down with a torn ACL on his right knee. It was a crushing loss to the Ole Miss defense. Not only would No. 38 not see the field in 2011, surgeries and rehab would keep him away from live action until the 2013 season.
After a successful return last year, Shackelford has emerged the leader on defense the Ole Miss faithful expected after watching him first suit up for the Rebels in 2009. His experience through injuries and success on the field and in the classroom makes him a vital asset to the squad.
“The pluses, I feel like I have that experience, from an academic and athletic perspective,” Shackelford said. “It is not wise for any player to think that you can thrive athletically and coast academically. By me being a sixth year and having the education that I do have and having the athletic experience I have, I feel like that’s a perfect combination to teach the younger guys that ‘Hey, it’s ok to be great in sports, but be great in academics too, because it doesn’t always last’.”
That education includes a Bachelor’s in History and a Master’s in Higher Education. Shackelford is currently working towards his second master’s degree.
After earning the starting role at linebacker this spring, Shackelford says he is fairly close to 100 percent. His recovery has been a long one that included two surgeries.
“I have to be realistic,” he said. “I’ve had two ACL surgeries. Injuries are everywhere in sports. As far as what I know, as far as psychologically and where I’m at physically right now, I am ready to go.”
Even after all the adversity with injuries and coming back twice, the fire is still there. No. 38 on the field for 2014 lives by the words etched into stone in the southwestern corner of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, ‘Never Quit.’
“A big head leaves no room for a humble mind,” he said. “Of course I want to raise my level of play. This year I feel like I’m established as one of the leaders on this team and being established as a play maker on the defense, the bar has been raised.”
The Ole Miss Linebacker Corps looks to be strong point for the Rebels in 2014 with Serderious Bryant and Denzel Nkemdiche adding to the cause to raise the bar on defense.
“I know I’ll get to cheer a little more when I’m on the field cause they [Bryant and D. Nkemdiche] are going to make some big plays” he said. “Through the ups and downs those guys have remained focused, and they probably had the best off season out of any two players on this team. This is the year. If not now, then when?”
This article originally appeared in The Local Voice #210 (published August 14, 2014).
To download a PDF of this issue, click HERE.