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Q&A with Nick Mullens - Gatorade's "Alabama Quarterback of the Year"

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12-17-2012 (SPHS) - By JEFF THOMPSON/Hwy 280 Living

Nick Mullens had an amazing season as quarterback for the Spain Park Jaguars, and for it he’s been named Gatorade’s Alabama Football Player of the Year. The senior quarterback passed for 3,629 yards and 40 touchdowns, leading the Jags (10-3) to the Class 6A state semifinals. A 2011 Class 6A All-State Honorable Mention selection, Mullens completed 64 percent of his passes while throwing only seven interceptions.

Mullens is also a member of Spain Park student government and has volunteered locally as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with the National Honor Society, and has also donated his time as a peer mentor and youth football instructor.

“He has been our unquestioned leader all year,” Spain Park Coach Chip Lindsey said, crediting Mullens as one of the best players he had ever coached. “I’ve been here two years now, and I’ve seen him progress so much. He’s gotten bigger and stronger, and this season he was like another coach on field. He’ll be sorely missed.”

Players of the Year are selected by a Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports.


What does being named Gatorade 2012 Alabama Football Player of the Year (POY) mean to you?

It is a true honor. It means I have excelled on the football field as well as off. It is special to be a part of an award that many greats have won such as Jerome Bettis and Mark Sanchez.


What are your thoughts on your on-field performance this season?

It was a great season for me on the field. I'm proud of our team because we came together and really played well down the stretch. We were outmatched in a lot of games size-wise and still managed to have a great team attitude to pull out wins.


How have you grown this year?

This year I have grown as a quarterback and as a player. I am now 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, coming from 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds my junior year. I have also grown in my decision-making and play-making abilities. As a senior, it was nice to have the freedom to change the play at the line of scrimmage or have the option to run or pass. Coach Lindsey trusted me so he allowed me to have more freedom within the offense.


What other activities do you participate in at Spain Park?

At Spain Park I participate in Senior Class Officers where I hold the position of Publicity Coordinator. I also am a Peer Helper and serve in a drug, alcohol and tobacco free awareness program called Teens Need Teens. We travel to elementary schools to counsel and do presentations for them. I am apart of Fellowship of Christian Athletes as well.


What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I hang out with the same guys I've played football with since I was in second grade. These guys are mostly my receivers including Drake Grisham, Ben Olinger and Cade Hoffman. I also like to kayak and fish. I live on a lake and get out on the kayak a good bit.


Tell us about your family. How have they helped you succeed during your high school career?

My family is one of the keys to my success. My mom has been my biggest fan since I started playing football. I always rely on my dad for advice and guidance through tough situations. My parents have helped develop my leadership skills throughout my career. My parents along with my brother and sister and grandparents are the best support I have.


What are your goals for college? What about after?

I am committed to play college football at Jacksonville State University. My goals for college are to have a successful four-year college football career while enjoying a nice college experience. The quarterbacks are young at JSU, so my goal is to get playing time as a freshman. On into my career, I plan to go into business and possibly sports public relations.


How has the coaching staff prepared you for the next step?

Coach Lindsey and my coaches have prepared me well for college. Coach Lindsey is my QB coach and does a great job. He has taught me a college-level offense and how to be mentally tough through the course of a tough season. My coaches have taught me how to make right decisions on and off the field.


What advice would you give to the next Jags’ quarterback?

Just for some background info, the next Spain Park QB will be Mickey Forrest. He transferred from Oak Mountain last year. I have taken him under my wing and hopefully taught him a few things. We are now very good friends. My advice to him would be to first establish yourself as the leader and get your senior leaders to establish a successful mindset for the team. Then prepare as hard as you can so the work will pay off. When I say prepare I mean prepare starting now in the offseason. Work hard, learn from your coaches and study the film. While doing this, stay humble and be thankful for the opportunities.


With your final season as a Jag reaching its end, what will you miss most about the program?

The thing I'll miss most about being part of the Jags program is the relationships. I'll miss suiting up and playing with the kids I've played with since second grade. I, my receivers and offensive linemen had such great relationships, I'll miss that. Football at Spain Park was such a great experience because our team enjoyed working, competing, learning and growing together.


What message do you want to leave for your team after such an impressive season?

After the season, it was a great feeling to let my teammates know we gave it all we had. As a team we knew we were outmatched by size in majority of our games, but I'd tell my team I'm proud of them for the way they fought and came together as a team through the season. At the beginning of the year we didn't know how good we were going to be. It's awesome to look back and say guys we really made a name for ourselves this year and had a great run. 

– For more, visit playeroftheyear.gatorade.com

[Look for this piece in an upcoming issue of 280 Living]


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