Thoughts and Prayers Needed for Nick Bell

I have re-written this article in my mind a dozen times or more since news broke earlier today that Mississippi State defensive end Nick Bell was back in the hospital. Nick began like most other players, as a name on a list, but he grew to be much more over the course of the last few years. Nick made the transformation from prospect to recruit to commit to signee to player to family.

I remember the first time I ever spoke with Nick. We spoke shortly after he received his offer from Mississippi State, an offer he elected to accept a short time later.

Bell hailed from Jess Lanier High School and his emergence on the Mississippi State recruiting radar came a little out of nowhere.

Thanks to a mutual friend in the high school coaching circle, I was able to get in contact with Nick to learn more about him and his offer from the Bulldogs.

Bell explained to me that he had committed to Coach Croom. He could barely contain his emotions. The rising defensive star was about to become an SEC player. Who could blame a young man for being a little excitable?

As I began pecking away at a commitment story, Nick called back and asked me to hold the story.

Despite holding just one college scholarship offer, Bell wanted to announce his college decision to the media.

I agreed to hold the story, but I wondered why a player with just one college option felt the need to go through the fuss of a media event.

I never asked him, but I learned more on that later.

Gene Swindoll drove over to Bessmer, Alabama to get a good picture of Nick for future use on the network.

We got a kick out of the fact that Nick wanted to wear a sleeveless shirt to "show off his guns" in his pictures.

Despite wanting to look good for the camera, Bell showed a humility that most college bound prospects simply have not discovered.

Nick was grateful above all things. He had no sense of entitlement, ego or arrogance about the prospect.

He was a young man from a single parent family who was thrilled to have the chance to go to college, get an education and continue playing the game he loved.

A week or so later Gene made plans to attend the press conference for Nick.

I spoke with Nick the day before the event and he filled me in on why he wanted to announce his decision in such a public way.

Bell wanted his press conference to be a celebration, but not in a "look at me" way.

Nick explained that he wanted to have a time when he could bring everyone together, friends, family, teachers, coaches and others to thank them.

He wanted his moment to be about others and provide him the chance to pay tribute to all of those who had helped him along the way.

I found his outlook refreshing. In a day where prima donnas are often celebrated and where some stretch the process out just because they can, Nick was just happy to be part of it all.

Give me more Nick Bells and less limos, less drama, less attitude, less grandiosity and less self celebrating bravado.

Every time Nick and I have come face-to-face over the last few years, he has approached me with a smile and an outstretched hand.

Our paths crossed this summer and all Nick could talk about was how good the defense was going to be and how this guy had improved and how that guy was so much stronger.

It was never about Nick, ever.

Right now, it is all about Nick and his fight. I do not know all of the details, but I know this young man went from jumping up and down on the sidelines at the UAB game to a hospital in short order.

Those close to the family say Nick's most recent trip to Starkville was great for him. He was sad not to be with his team on the field, but being around the guys reminded him he had something to come back to.

Nick and his family needs our prayers and support.

Right now Nick's wonderful mother, Linda, is having to face a battle she never expected against a foe that simply doesn't fight fair.

She needs our love and support as she does the best she can to see about her son and OUR brother.

Nick is one of us and we must answer the call to pray for this young man.

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