Former Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens brought immense pride to Hattiesburg by just earning the start for the San Fransisco 49ers against the Oakland Raiders last Thursday.
I had a slew of emotions that crossed my mind while watching Mullens’ performance on Thursday night, but first I would just like to take a quick second and thank my professor for letting my 6:30 p.m. class out early. Had it not been for him, I would not have been able to catch the game.
Anyways, it wasn’t just the fact that Mullens started the game, but it was his entire performance throughout the night that made him fun to watch. No one in the nation, that is everyone but local Hattiesburgers, could have predicted how Mullens played.
To be quite honest, Mullens’ 262-yard, three touchdown day didn’t shock me one bit. What else could you expect from Southern Miss’ all-time career passing record holder? The stories of Mullens simulating games with crowd noise or the intensity he brings during walkthrough practices is nothing new.
I remember when I interviewed former Southern Miss quarterback Keon Howard the summer after Mullens graduated. Howard talked about how Mullens seemed to never leave the film room and that his intelligence over the game was truly eye opening for Howard, as well as myself.
What was a little frustrating was how the national media portrayed Mullens as a nobody who broke all of Brett Favre’s passing records. Just to set the record straight, Mullens broke many of Austin Davis’ passing records, who in turn originally broke most of Favre’s. There is no question that Mullens story is a feel good story, but good lord, they oversold it just a tad for my taste.
Nevertheless, Favre calling into the Fox post-game show was not just a message of congratulations from a former legend, but in a way, Favre acted as the voice of Southern Miss fans.
It was interesting to see that just two years ago, Mullens was in Hattiesburg just doing his thing like any other college kid. To think that two years ago, Mullens went from being interviewed by me to Erin Andrews on a primetime stage.
Mullens will likely start against the Giants this week. If he continues to play the way he did last week, then there is no question that you may potentially see another Hall of Fame quarterback from Southern Miss.
What was impressive was that Mullens earned the respect of 49ers fan base in the preseason, with several fans on Twitter asking for him to be named the second string quarterback over C.J. Beathard.
However, the best moment of the night was Mullens postgame interview with Andrews, where he earned the respect of a lot of football fans. Mullens kept it humble as he always has, but the most genuine line of his entire interview ‘I just love football’ made sports fans feel for the guy.
The fact is, Mullens is someone who works hard and is genuinely humble, and made us realize why we all love football.