Nick Bell, Mississippi State DE, Dies After Battle With Cancer
The school has also confirmed Bell's death in a release on its athletic website.
Bell died Tuesday afternoon. He underwent surgery for a form of cancer on Sunday.
"He was outstanding," Cook said. "Words can't describe him. He was just totally all about football. I actually called him my son. The bad thing about it is I 'd just seen him not too long ago. He just went downhill fast. It's hard for us. We are all saddened by the loss. He is going to be greatly missed."
Bell had a tumor -- a form of skin cancer -- discovered in October.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen spoke of Bell in the school's statement.
"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," Mullen said. "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."
Bell was set to begin chemotherapy on Tuesday but his condition took a turn for the worse following his surgery.
Mullen was supposed to give a speech to the Jackson Touchdown Club Monday night, but decided instead to meet with Bell's family and his team. Athletic director Scott Stricklin took Mullen's place, and informed the crowd of the reason for Mullen's sudden cancellation, telling them that Bell was in "grave condition" and was "fighting for his life."
Bell started the first two games of the season for the Bulldogs, who are No. 20 in the AP poll and winners of six straight.
Academic counselor Kylie Amato referenced Bell's character.
"What I would tell you is the same thing his coaches and teammates will tell you. He's a young man who has everybody's respect. He's got a great personality. Everybody likes him," Amato told the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss.
Senior writer Terrance Harris contributed to this report.