Ole Miss Chapter To Honor Van Devenders And Jesse Mitchell With NFF Awards Former Rebels Honored For Their Career Achievements And Service
Jesse Mitchell (photo by Ole Miss Communications)
Nov. 21, 2013
OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame will honor Billy and Mollie Van Devender of Jackson, Miss., with its Distinguished American Award and Jesse Mitchell, also of Jackson, with the Contribution to Amateur Football Award here Saturday night, Nov. 23, when No. 24 Ole Miss hosts No. 8 Missouri. Kickoff for the ESPN national telecast is set for 6:45 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium/Hollingsworth Field.
The Distinguished American Award is presented by the Ole Miss Chapter to individuals who have set the standards for excellence in a life of service to the community, while the Contribution to Amateur Football Award is given in honor of those who have made numerous contributions to the college athletics world through service to their fellow man.
"We are pleased to honor these three individuals for their contributions to Ole Miss athletics," said Richard Noble of Indianola, Miss., president of the Ole Miss Chapter. "They are most deserving of this recognition, and having an on-campus salute provides an excellent opportunity to express our sincere appreciation for all they have done for Ole Miss."
After earning three letters at the Monster Man position for Coach John Vaught’s Ole Miss football team (1968-70), Billy Van Devender graduated from The University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1971. He received his MBA in 1973 from Southern Methodist University, and then joined the Central Intelligence Agency.
After four years with the CIA, he moved back to Mississippi to begin his business career, which began in the oil and gas industry, followed by investments in real estate development and the forest product industry where his family is primarily in timber management and lumber manufacturing.
He has contributed a substantial amount of philanthropic work to his community, having served as Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality since 1998 and joining the board of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 1997. He has served on the board of Mississippi's Young Life organization and the Mississippi Baptist Health System.
Billy also is an active board member of But God Ministries, an organization that works to build sustainable living communities in Haiti and a member and Deacon at First Baptist Church of Jackson. In past years, Billy has been a member of the Young Presidents' Organization, the World Forestry Center and the Chief Executive Organization.
During his football playing days at Ole Miss, he helped lead the Rebels to a 22-10-1 record and three bowl games (Liberty, Sugar and Gator), including a 27-22 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl to finish the 1969 season 8-3 overall and earn a No. 8 ranking in the final polls.
Mollie Van Devender competed in and won the honor of Miss Mississippi in 1975. She is a member of the Junior League of Jackson and a past chair of Mistletoe Marketplace. Mollie served as Arts Commissioner for the state of Mississippi from 1997-2002 and is a past board member of the Museum of Natural Science, the Wilson Research Center, the American Cancer Society and the Cancer League of Jackson, where she also served as president of the board.
She is a member of the University of Virginia Parents Committee, and currently serves on the Board of Stratford Hall, the historic birthplace of Robert E. Lee. An active member of the board of Jackson Preparatory School, where she has served since 2006, Mollie is chair of Prep's current capital campaign, Transforming Prep - Celebrating Arts and Leadership.
Mollie and Billy enjoy traveling, visiting friends and spending time with their four children – daughters Laura (Mrs. Tommy Stansell) and Anne (Mrs. Jack Stanton) and sons William (Meredith) and Clinton Van Devender – and precious grandchildren. Billy is an avid golfer and duck hunter. Mollie is a skilled big game hunter, and has recently acquired The Onward Store located in Onward, Miss., which is the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt's Teddy Bear.
Jesse Mitchell is the founding partner of The Mitchell Firm. Considered one of the most well-rounded, unique and diverse litigators in the Southeast, he was honored by Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” – an honor that is bestowed on less than 2.5 percent of the attorneys in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee combined. He is one of very few litigators in the country that holds a Series 7 and Series 63 securities broker license.
Mitchell, who earned his Bachelor of Accountancy and Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi, was decorated with numerous accolades and awards for his academic leadership and for his success on the football field as a defensive end.
After being redshirted his true freshman year in 1999, Mitchell’s collegiate career saw him letter four times (2000-03), while helping Coach David Cutcliffe’s Rebels participate in three bowl games, including an Independence Bowl win over Nebraska and a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State. The win over Oklahoma State capped a 10-3 season in 2003 when Ole Miss and LSU were Co-Champions of the SEC Western Division.
Mitchell’s senior year in 2003 saw him named to the Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference first team as Ole Miss finished No. 13 in the final national rankings. Other honors of note included receiving the 2003 John Howard Vaught Award of Excellence, presented to honor the senior athlete who exemplifies the qualities of dedication, scholastic ability, morale and performance, and the 2003 J. Richard Price Courage and Compassion Award, which also included a scholarship in his name for the University of Mississippi.
Mitchell signed a contract with the Baltimore Ravens, but injuries sidelined his football career and sent him on his path to law school.
After graduating from law school, Mitchell was offered positions with two of the most successful plaintiff firms in the country. However, he decided to take a different route which has ultimately brought him full-circle back to a practice that is primarily focused on representing plaintiffs.
Mitchell is a member of various boards of directors associated with the University of Mississippi, including the University of Mississippi Alumni Association Board of Directors and the University of Mississippi Law School Board of Directors. He is also the current president of the University of Mississippi’s M-Club Alumni Chapter.
Jesse and his wife, Darrilyn, live in Brandon, Miss., with their two sons – Jayden and Chase.
THE SEASON: Ole Miss Basketball (2014) - Episode 7 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.In case you missed it, here are each of the first six episodes of The Season: Ole Miss Basketball:Episode 1 (Season overview, Auburn, Mississippi State games)Episode... read more
In less than a full indoor season with the Ole Miss track & field team, Australian distance runner Daniel Bulmer has had a significant impact on the school record books and set the stage for a lot more to come... read more
What a Win tonight... Very Proud of our team #ProudCoach #Passion #Process #1MISSion-- Matt Insell (@minsell) March 6, 2014 What a great win for our program tonight! This team has come so far! Watch us take on Auburn tomorrow night... read more
Proceeding from 1995 to 1996, we will highlight moment No. 23 in head coach Billy Chadwick's career. This particular moment will accentuate a tremendous individual accomplishment. In 1996, Sweden's Johan Hede became the first Rebel in Ole Miss tennis history... read more
The Ole Miss women's basketball team looks to carry the momentum from a 73-71 overtime win over Auburn on Senior Day this past Sunday into this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. The Rebels are... read more
Ole Miss and Arkansas are both looking to improve their Southeastern Conference standing and possibly play their way into a top-four seed and a double bye to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament next week in Atlanta. The Rebels are... read more
Senior Bo Wallace returns at quarterback and will go through spring drills for the first time since 2012, having missed spring practice last year recovering from offseason shoulder surgery."I feel like strength-wise, I'm a lot better than I was at... read more
Audio of Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell's time on the SEC teleconference Monday as well as audio of Arkansas head coach Tom Collen and Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. Ole Miss is the No. 14 seed in this week's... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewFeb. 24-March 2, 2014Baseball- Ole Miss posted four straight walk-off wins this past week on the way to two wins over ULM and a sweep of UCF.- Junior right-handed pitcher Chris Ellis has not allowed... read more
To begin this week, we are ending 1995 for moment No. 24. This moment is another first for the Ole Miss tennis program and is the product of a true collective effort by Coach Chadwick and the Rebels.By now, you... read more
Photo GalleryA total of 25 scouts representing 22 NFL teams were on hand at Ole Miss' annual Pro Day Monday, including former Rebel Von Hutchins, now with the Oakland Raiders organization. Donte Moncrief, who participated in the 2014 NFL Combine,... read more
Highlights of Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy's time on the SEC teleconference Monday, as well as selected questions and answers from Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson and Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. The Rebels close out the regular season... read more