July 3, 2014
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - After a rocky first year at Southern Miss, sophomore quarterback Nick Mullens is prepared to get the Golden Eagles back on the winning track.
The former Gatorade Alabama Football Player of the Year believes his competitive nature will translate into success this coming season.
"I think of myself as a real, true competitor - on and off the field," said Mullens in a recent interview. "The big thing about it is you have to get your teammates to compete as well. I think leadership and accuracy are the two biggest parts of being a quarterback. You've got to inspire your teammates and make them work hard as well, and nobody can defend the perfect throw."
Mullens certainly has had an interesting road towards becoming the starting quarterback for the Golden Eagles.
"I wasn't very heavily recruited," explained Mullens. "I took a lot of visits to Sun Belt and Conference USA schools, but I never really got the offers that I was hoping for. I just stayed patient and when I came to Southern Miss, it was really everything I could ask for. They've got a nice college campus and they run the offense that I fit perfectly for."
In addition to a perfect offensive system, Mullens also spoke highly of head coach Todd Monken.
"Coach Monken is a great coach; he's a real player's coach," said Mullens. "After talking with him for a while [when we first met], I really got the vibe that he was somebody who would care about me on and off the field."
Starting the final six games of last season, Mullens seems to have found a home at the top of the Southern Miss depth chart. An important part of his early success comes from the support of his fellow teammates and coaches.
"You have the older players that you look up to. Cole Weeks is one guy in particular," said Mullens. "He was a walk-on quarterback so he had a tougher road and has experienced a lot in his career. He was one guy who really took me in right when I got to Hattiesburg. We played some golf and got to know each other. He's a real trustworthy guy I can depend on."
Despite a rough 1-11 season last year, Mullens is ready to move forward and is optimistic for this coming fall.
"I look forward to just being back out there and making plays," explained Mullens excitedly. "Obviously we had a rough year last year, but the only way we can improve is to get better and make plays out there. I'm looking forward to just collecting more wins and playing as a team. We know that we're good enough, so it's really our job and our leaders' job to go out there and execute."
For Mullens himself, the young quarterback has made it his goal to improve efficiency and become the true leader of the Golden Eagles.
"I have a goal to throw under 10 interceptions this season," explained Mullens. "I also want to establish myself as the leader on and off the field. That means really doing a good job bonding with my teammates. I think that's one of the most important things right now because we're becoming strong as a team."
One player that Mullens looks up to and who exemplifies those qualities is New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
"He's a shorter, athletic passer-profile like me," compared Mullens. "He's a great guy off the field and a real good leader. I try to model my game and strive to be like him."
With a long career at Southern Miss still ahead for Mullens, he has his sights set on a few notable accomplishments by the time his career is over.
"As a team, I hope to accomplish a conference championship and multiple bowl victories," said Mullens looking ahead. "I also want to be really in-tuned with the Hattiesburg community. There's a great fan base here and a great community around Hattiesburg. Finally, I want to get my degree. I'm a marketing major right now so I'd love to get a marketing job out of college."
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