TUSCALOOSA _ Former University of Alabama recruit Nick Bell, a Mississippi State defensive end who played in the first four games of this season, died from a brain tumor Tuesday. He was 20.
"Nick was a great friend and a great person," junior defensive end Marcell Dareus said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time. I love his family and if there is anything I can do to help them out, I plan to be there for them.
"He was a great all-around guy and was someone I knew would be a good friend right off the bat. When we were both in Birmingham or when he was in Tuscaloosa, we would always hang out. He is a guy that everyone liked and you always felt comfortable around.
"Nick was just a great, down-home person that made everyone around him happy. He will be missed and I will always remember him as a great friend."
Bell finished his high school career at Jess Lanier after transferring from Minor. The Bulldogs are off this weekend and will visit Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 13.
"This is a tragedy for Nick's family, our football program, our community and everyone who had the privilege to meet and be around Nick Bell," Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen said in a release. "Nick was a son and a brother to our football family and I know he will continue to look over us from heaven. Nick lived his life like a champion and will always be remembered in our hearts that way. During this impossible time, we pray for Nick's family and all those he has touched."
The MSU athletic department has established a memorial fund to assist the Bell family. Donations may be made through the Bulldog Club at 662-325-3074. Cards and message can also be sent to PO Box 5308, Mississippi State, MS, 39762.
Barron a Thorpe finalist
Junior safety Mark Barron was named a finalist for the Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive back.
"He deserves it," sophomore defensive end Damion Square said. "Mark is a special guy."
Barron lead the Crimson Tide in tackles with 52, 40 of which have been solo, to go with three tackles for a loss, two sacks, two hurries, eight passes defended, six broken up and a forced fumble. He has two interceptions after leading the Southeastern Conference last year with seven, when was named first-team All-SEC and third-team All-American by the Associated Press.
However, he's the only returning player from the two-deep depth chart.
"He means a lot (to us)," junior defensive back Phelon Jones said. "Mark is basically the brains of the secondary. If anyone doesn't know what to do or they come out in a formation we haven't practiced everyone will look to Mark. He tells us something to play and we'll correct it on the sideline if we have to."
Alabama will face one of the other semifinalists Saturday at LSU, junior cornerback Patrick Peterson. The others are:Prince Amukamara, Sr., Nebraska; Chimdi Chekwa, Sr., Ohio State; Brandon Harris, Jr., Miami (Fla.); Cliff Harris, Soph., Oregon; Tejay Johnson, Sr., TCU; Joe Lefeged, Sr., Rutgers; Rahim Moore, Jr., UCLA; and Tyler Sash, Jr., Iowa.
Finalists will be announced Nov. 22.
Here's the rundown of where Alabama stands for postseason awards:
Bednarik Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower named to watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 8. Fred Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): Julio Jones named to watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 15 Butkus Award (linebacker): Dont'a Hightower named semifinalist. Finalists announced Nov. 23. Nico Johnson was on watch list. (Rolando McClain reigning winner). Walter Camp Award (Player of the year): Mark Ingram named to watch list. Semifinalists announced Nov. 16. William Campbell Trophy (scholar-athlete, formerly known as the Draddy Trophy): Greg McElroy finalist. Winner announced Dec. 7. Heisman Trophy: Finalists announced Dec. 6 (Mark Ingram reigning winner). Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end): Marcell Dareus was named to the watch list. Midseason list to be announced in November. Lott Trophy (defensive impact player): Mark Barron named quarterfinalist. Semifinalists named Nov. 11. Manning Award (quarterback, includes bowls): Greg McElroy on watch list. Finalists named Nov. 29. Maxwell Award (outstanding player): Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy on watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 8. Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower and Robert Lester on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 18. Outland Trophy (interior lineman): James Carpenter and Barrett Jones on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 22. Paul Hornung Award (most versatile): Trent Richardson on watch list. Finalists announced in early December. Rimington Trophy (center): William Vlachos on watch list. Finalists announced Dec. 6. Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Mark Barron on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 22. Unitas Golden Arm (senior quarterback): Greg McElroy named semifinalist. Finalists announced in mid-November. Doak Walker Award (running back): Mark Ingram named to watch list. Semifinalists announced Nov. 11. Burlsworth Trophy (walk-on): Nominees announced Nov. 17.
No one from Alabama being considered Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Greg McElroy was on watch list. Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman): James Carpenter, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower were all on the watch list. John Mackey Award (tight end). Lou Groza Award (kicker). Ray Guy Award (punter).
Coaching awards Paul "Bear" Bryant Award: Watch list TBA. Broyles Award (assistant coach): Finalists announced Nov. 29 (Kirby Smart reigning winner). Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award: Finalists TBA (Nick Saban reigning winner). George Munger Award: Semifinalists announced Nov. 8. Home Depot Coach of the Year: Finalists TBA. Joe Paterno Award: Semifinalists announced Nov. 8. Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year: Finalists TBA. Eddie Robinson Award: Finalists announced Nov. 24. Amos Alonzo Stagg Coach of the Year Award: Finalists TBA (Nick Saban reigning winner).
Defensive lineman Kerry Murphy (knee soreness) was back working with the top unit during Tuesday's observation period after being limited on Monday. It should be noted, though, that both he and Damion Square could split time at end depending which LSU quarterback is in the game.
D.J. Fluker (groin) continued to work behind Alfred McCullough a right tackle.
Jones, an LSU transfer, worked a star in the dime package. DeQuan Menzie (groin) was limited during Alabama's open-date workouts last week.
Tide-bits Sophomore guard Barrett Jones on how practices are going: "So far so good. We felt like we had a really good day (Monday), and followed it with an all right day today. That's something that we have to focus on, setting the tone for the week to come. I thought we had a really good week of practices Tennessee week and three really good practices the bye week."
Barrett Jones on playing at LSU: "My freshman year I went down there and I don't have any proof to this but it was the loudest place I've heard, I think. Two years ago when they blocked that field goal to send it into overtime that was the loudest I've heard a stadium in my life. Also, when they do the 'Sun sets in the Western sky,' I think that's pretty cool. It's a great atmosphere. It's definitely a hostile environment and that's something they pride themselves in."
Square's idea for countering LSU's tiger: "We need an elephant on our sideline."