Oct. 29, 2013
By Lauren McMillin
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
Being in the spotlight can be intimidating and with all of Rebel Nation watching, some might be afraid of making the wrong move on or off the field. For Mike Marry, though, being in the spotlight is a place where he can lead by example, showing both his teammates and fans how to make the right choices in life.
A senior from Clearwater, Fla., Marry’s interest in football and his journey to leadership began by following the footsteps of his own father. “(It all began by) seeing my dad coach and just always wanting to be around my dad,” he said. “We just started off playing in the backyard, just me and him. Then I finally tried out and made the team. I’ve been playing since I was eight years old.”
Although he enjoyed playing football throughout high school, the linebacker never seriously considered a college football career, or even knew what possibilities were awaiting him. During his last few years in high school, however, Marry’s ability caught the eyes of countless schools.
“I didn’t really even know about scholarships until my junior year, until I started getting big trash bags full of letters,” Marry said. “That’s when I really started thinking about it. Other than that, I was just playing because I love football.”
Marry was greeted with numerous offers to play college football, but when it came down to making a decision, a close-knit community was everything. Oxford offered him just that.
“Just going through all of my visits, it’s the only place that really felt like home,” he said. “It felt like I had a family here. I had a lot more offers, but this was the only place I felt like being away from my parents wouldn’t be that big of a deal.”
Marry continues to feel the love and support that make Oxford and Ole Miss unique. “It’s a family atmosphere,” he said. “Not just in football, but people around the city in general. Everybody shows you love.”
Since joining the Rebels his freshman year, Marry has seen the program go through a series of changes. While some of them may have been difficult, Marry found the drive and determination to keep moving forward and help his team.
“Going through the coaching changes and losing seasons…wanting to win for the younger players, that’s what helped get me through the losing seasons and helped me keep going,” he said. “I just want to leave something good for the younger players. I want them to experience the same thing I experienced when I first got here.”
In his second season with Coach (Hugh) Freeze, Marry’s dream for younger players to experience success is starting to become a reality.
“People are being held more accountable,” he said. “(Coach Freeze) came in with an accountability program. It’s not going to be perfect the first year, but now it’s really in full effect.”
Even though it’s his last season as a Rebel, Marry feels confident in the direction of the team.
“It feels great, especially seeing the way Coach Freeze has the program headed,” he said. “Just going from winning two games one year and four games the next year, then to a bowl game, it’s just great. With the major steps they’re taking this year, it’s a great feeling.”
Being a senior allows Marry to step into a true leadership position, influencing his teammates in a positive manner.
“Freshmen coming in, they look up to the seniors, whether you know it or not, whether they admit it or not,” he said. “If you’re doing things the wrong way, they’re going to think that’s the right way, and that’s just going to be a snowball effect.”
Marry takes this responsibility seriously and works hard to be a positive role model by doing things the right way.
His compassion for his teammates and leadership ability led Marry to become the 24th recipient of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. He proudly wears No. 38 on the field this season.
“It’s a great honor to be part of that tradition,” he said. “Not many players get a chance to do it. It just makes you want to be more accountable to yourself and to your teammates, and just try to do everything the right way, because you know that a lot of eyes are on you.”
As a representative of the Ole Miss football program, Marry understands the role he has through this award and the ways in which he can use it to benefit the team.
“Just leading by example, trying to always do the right thing,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing you can do. It’s not always about being vocal. You have to be vocal when you need to be, but it’s more about leading by example.”
After earning a degree in exercise science, Marry plans to attend nursing school. Until then, he hopes to finish strong and to guide Rebel Nation through the rest of the season.
“We’re going to give it our all, every play,” he said. “We’re going to play for the fans. We appreciate everything they do and all the love they show us, on the field and off the field. We’re going to keep this program going in the right direction.”