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By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State is currently preparing for a homecoming game with UT Martin, but a reminder of the reality off the field is stronger than ever this week.
Wednesday marks one year since the Bulldogs lost a teammate and a brother in Nick Bell.
Bell lost his battle with cancer on November 2 last year and as the Bulldogs move on together on the field it doesn't mean they have forgotten.
"It's never that far away from a lot of the kids minds, especially the older players," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "I think a lot of them have come to grips and understanding."
The older players that were close to Bell could have a harder time when Wednesday gets here, but so far Mullen says it hasn't come up much yet.
"I think it will be tough this week," said Mullen. "The younger guys, they didn't know him that much. It's tough for them to deal with but much more for our older guys."
One reason for the players being able to move on could be due to Bell's mother, Linda, still being a part of the program. She will spend some time with the team this week, as she did when they traveled to Birmingham, which is close to Bell's hometown of Bessemer and Mullen feels she helps keep everybody upbeat in remembering Nick.
"(Nick's) mom is so involved with the program still," said Mullen. "I think there is some comfort there and it's more about celebrating his life than being depressed about it."
Another person who has been there to help the team get through the tough situation is Mullen's wife Megan.
"She does a great job," said Mullen. "She's around for our players and I know a lot of our players are a lot more comfortable with emotional things with Megan."
The players and coaches haven't forgotten their teammate and neither has the Bulldog nation.
Today, as part of homecoming week, the student association is hosting the Nick Bell 3.6 Mile Run as a benefit for the Nick Bell Mentoring Memorial Foundation, whose mission statement is "To develop and fund innovative programs for young people that provide academic enrichment and promote the importance of discipline, determination, and excellence in character as essential ingredients for a successful life.â€ť
The race will begin at 6 p.m. and registration will start at 4:45 p.m, but as for what will happen on the field on Saturday, the Bulldogs don't have any plans to change what they've been doing to remember Bell.
"We'll do what we've been doing," said Mullen. "We have the patch on the jersey and on the field we've memorialized him. I don't know if we are going to do anything to make a bigger deal, but I think we do a lot with it already in the right context of things."
The 36-yard line hash marks on Scott Field have been painted black all season and will remain that way through the end of the season. Mullen said at some point, possibly when it would have been Bell's senior season, they will possibly do something more to honor Bell.