Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Wednesday his team has done its best to rally around each other as coaches and players all try to come to grips with the death of defensive end Nick Bell, who lost his short bout with cancer on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs, who are off this weekend, practiced on Tuesday and will practice again on Wednesday. A memorial service for Bell is planned for Thursday night on campus, and his funeral will be held Saturday in Birmingham.
“We’ve tried to keep the team together as much as possible, and they have coaches and other family members to deal with what’s gone on,” Mullen said. “Everybody deals with it differently, and it will take all different time periods for our guys to deal with it. There’s no right or wrong way to feel or act right now.
“That routine of doing things in your life allows you to not sit and get lost in the emotion. It allows you to go out and do things you normally do and feel like a normal person as you try and deal with this grief.”
Mullen said the outpouring of love and support from fans and other coaches around the country has been heartwarming.
“People know what a family a football team is,” he said.
For the players, probably the hardest thing to accept is that Bell was right there with them playing football a little more than a month ago. He was on the sideline watching the UAB game two weeks ago.
And now, at the age of 20, he’s gone.
“I know teams deal with accidents and guys are killed tragically in accidents,” Mullen said. “Our guys knew Nick was sick and could see this was something that wasn’t a sudden accident. They knew it was there, and it puts a lot of things in perspective for our players.
“We try to build them up to be so big, strong, fast, tough and that they can do anything, this warrior that we create or whatever it is, and then for them to see how precious life is and fast things can change in this manner … that’s something our players are dealing with, how precious every day of their life is right now and to make sure they appreciate it and take advantage of the great gift that God gives them and every day that God gives them.”