Playing Physical and Smart

Redshirt freshman defensive end Nick Bell was rated a two-star recruit by coming out of high school. After redshirting his true freshman year, he is playing like a three-star or four-star prospect, having played in all four games this season, even earning a start in one game. And he's earned that playing time by doing exactly what the Mississippi State coaches have asked of him.

"The coaches basically said they really want me to play physical and play good assignment football," said Nick. "If you can do those two things you are going to be ok around here."

After backing up junior defensive end Brandon Cooper in the Jackson State and Auburn game, Nick got his first start in the Vanderbilt game. And it's very possible he may get his second start this coming Saturday against Georgia Tech.

"(Defensive line coach David Turner) said I was pretty physical and didn't have any missed assignments in the LSU game," said the 6-3.5, 260-pounder. "I'm running with the ones right now but it's game by game."

Nick wasn't always this physical, especially when he first got to Mississippi State. That's part of the reason he was redshirt last season.

" I was 230 (pounds) when I first got here," said the Jess Lanier (Bessemer, AL) High School product. "Redshirting really helped me because I got bigger and stronger and got to watch guys like (2008 defensive ends) Tim Bailey and Jimmie Holmes. I really wasn't ready last year because I came in as a linebacker and it was a big transformation for me."

And as you would expect the big transformation required a lot of hard work, which Nick was more than happy to do.

"I put in a lot of hard work in the spring and summer," said Nick Bell. "As long as you make plays, play physical and don't miss an assignment you will be ok here."

He gets another chance to make those plays this coming Saturday against Georgia Tech. Gametime is set for 6:30 pm. The game will be televised by Comcast Cable-Southeast.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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