Dallas — The University of Oklahoma football team was forced to deal with a tragedy in May, when senior linebacker Austin Box was found dead in El Reno, Okla., about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. On Tuesday, during the second day of Big 12 football media days at the Westin Galleria, the Sooners said they were still coping with the loss of their teammate.
“There's no words that truly can describe how you hurt and how the players hurt,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Austin was a great, great spirit in the locker room. He was a friend to everybody, and he's one of those special characters, a young person that everybody loved to see. So you miss that. And it doesn't go away. So, again, there's no really proper way to describe it. We're still working through it.”
The death was attributed to a mix of five prescription painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug in Box’s system.
OU quarterback Landry Jones wore the same number (12) as Box.
“It’s still difficult and I don’t think we’ve totally overcome it yet … I might do a little something different with my number,” Jones said. “I’m going to talk with his parents and figure that out. Maybe something to honor him.”
1 not a lonely number?
When the college football preseason polls come out next month, there’s a decent chance Oklahoma, with 14 returning starters and one of the most explosive offenses in the country, could find itself ranked No. 1.
“It’d be an honor being ranked No. 1,” said Jones, who passed for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns against 12 interceptions last season. “But if you don’t play like you’re the No. 1 team in the country, it doesn’t matter.”
Oklahoma has won five of the past seven Big 12 championships, and seven in the Big 12 era, which began in 1996.
“I think the chase for eight (Big 12 titles) is almost like a motivating factor,” Jones said. “I don't think that it's necessarily a distraction because at the end of the day, that's our goal.”
The Sooners won the Big 12 last season and finished 12-2 with a victory over Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl.
K-State LB Brown happy to be back home
Kansas State junior linebacker Arthur Brown will be eligible to play this season after sitting out in 2010 due to NCAA transfer rules. The Wichita native Brown, who played two seasons at Miami (Fla.), said he chose to transfer to be closer to family.
“The main reason was having the opportunity to play with my brother (sophomore running back Bryce Brown),” Arthur said. “It’s been great, just building our relationship.”
Bryce also transferred to K-State after playing one season at Tennessee.
Both Brown brothers are expected to start this season for a Wildcats team that went 7-6 (3-5 Big 12) last year. The Browns carry a large amount of hype with them as well. Bryce was the former No. 1 Rivals.com recruit in the country in the Class of 2009, while Arthur was the No. 23 Rivals recruit in the country (No. 2 among linebackers) in the Class of 2008.