Sophomore DE Nick Bell

Mississippi State sophomore defensive end Nick Bell has never been in better shape than he is today. And he understands the importance of being in tip top shape in the new MSU defense.

He came in as a 215-pound linebacker and has seen his weight increase by almost 50 pounds. And, according to Bell, he is in the best shape of his life.

"I was in pretty good shape coming out of high school (but) I was playing linebacker and was playing at 215 then," said the 6-3.5, 263-pounder. "I wasn't at my present weight. I have a physique now."

His playing weight on that physique will vary between 250 and 260. He explained why he has gotten up to as much as 265 pounds this summer.

"(MSU head strength) Coach (Matt) Balis had us working on putting on weight all summer," said Bell. "He knew that during two-a-days we would lose a lot of weight so he had us put on weight."

Being in shape will be a necessity due to the attacking style of MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. But also look for Diaz to play a two-deep defensive line. Nick Bell feels that will help his and the other defensive linemen's play tremendously.

"It will help us by keeping up fresh," said Bell. "A lot of teams like to hurry up. Like when we play Auburn they like to hurry up. So, that will keep us fresh and allow us to keep attacking."

Diaz even has them attacking in every way possible, even when they run on the field in practice drills.

"When we run on the field or off the field it's all about running to the ball," said Bell."It's like during a play and the ball hits the ground, whether it is an incomplete pass or a fumble or anything, we practice running to the ball and scooping it up and scoring. In a game people might see that as we lucked up and got the ball, but we practice that everyday."

Speaking of practice, the team once again is practicing on the Mississippi State south farm. And once again the intensity level of practice stepped up a notch. But this year the defense has tried to move the intensity to another level. Their purpose is not only to make them better but the offense better as well.

"It's the same intensity on the farm, but, defensively, we are trying to take it to another level," said Bell. "We are trying to help the offense get right and get prepared for what they are going to see this season."

The person helping Bell prepare for what he will see this season is new Mississippi State D-line coach Chris Wilson. Bell has been impressed with his position coach because he knows how to keep things fresh while teaching in a variety of ways.

"I like Coach Wilson because he comes at you different ways," said Bell. "One day he might have you up and downing for messing up, then another day he might come in and teach you. He has a variety of ways that he helps you learn."

And Bell has seen improvement under Wilson.

"Coach Wilson has helped my pass rush a lot just off the steps that he has us taking," said Bell. "(Really) he has helped my run (defense) and pass (rush) become better."

The Bulldogs begin play on September 4th against Memphis. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the game being televised nationally on ESPNU.

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

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