“He had a profound impact. He's been a huge part of the success we've had as a team. He stands for everything that's right about this program. He's such a big part of what we do, this family. To not have him here leaves a real empty feeling. It's really, really hard.”
Overcoming knee and back injuries throughout his career, Box played in 30 games, starting 11. He compiled 107 tackles.
“He exemplified everything you want from your players,” Venables said. “You want to talk about adversity, he faced a lot. It was never an option not to fight his way out of it to put himself back in position to contribute. That meant a lot to him to not let his teammates down.
“He was one of the most selfless guys I've ever been around, a great leader for us. His biggest fear as an Oklahoma Sooner was to let down the great players and great coaches that made this such a great program, that he wouldn't live up to that in some way.”
Venables opened with a statement before taking questions from the media.
“It's with great regret we're here tonight under the circumstances,” Venables said. “It's a devastating day for the Oklahoma family, the Box family. We're deeply saddened by the tragic death of Austin Box.
“Our deepest sorrows, sympathy, love, thoughts and prayers go out to the Box family and friends. Craig and Gail lost a son. Courtney and Whitney have lost a brother. We've lost a great teammate and a great friend in Austin Box. It's every parent's worst nightmare to get that call.”