HOOVER, Ala. — Nick Bell’s number is currently assigned to Jeffery Simmons, but Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said that might not be the case when the season kicks off.
“That’s not finalized yet,” Mullen said Tuesday morning at SEC Media Days. “I think they posted the numbers with some discussions we’re going to have. That’s something we’re going to continue to look at.”
Uniform No. 36 holds a special place in the Bulldogs’ hearts. Bell, a former defensive lineman, wore it during the 2010 season, when he started four games before undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his brain. He died in November of that year.
No player has worn it full-time since then. Now, Simmons — whose acceptance into the program after assaulting a woman on camera has been controversial, to say the least — will wear it.
Mullen explained (indirectly) that Simmons received the number as a way to remember Bell.
“The best way you can honor numbers is by having people wear them, but understand and respect what it takes to wear that number and what you’re representing in wearing that number,” Mullen said. “And so that’s something we had discussed and we’re looking forward to.”
Whether Simmons is deserving of such an important jersey is a conversation that will certainly be had as the season draws nearer, and Mullen’s comment that it’s “not finalized yet” is an acknowledgment of this impending controversy.
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