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.
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.
“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.
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).
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