DALLAS — Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is facing a difficult decision.
Jones wears the same number that middle linebacker Austin Box wore.
Does Jones stop wearing No. 12 as a tribute to Box, who died tragically in May? Or does Jones wear the number in his memory?
"I'm trying to still figure that out," Jones said on Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days. "I need to talk to his parents and see how they feel about it. It's really whatever they want me to do. If they don't care I'll probably keep 12."
Box's death was an emotional ordeal coach Bob Stoops said players and his coaching staff will constantly work through, something that never completely heals.
"There are no words that truly describe how you hurt and how the players hurt," Stoops said. "Austin was a great, great spirit in the locker room. He was a friend to everybody, one of those special characters, a young person everybody loved to see. You miss that. We're still working through it."
It was emotional for the entire team, especially teammates like fellow linebacker Travis Lewis and defensive coordinator Brent Venables, the linebackers coach.
"We've talked about a few different things (as a tribute) but it's not going to be anything dramatic like put tattoos on our back," Lewis said. "We're going to do it in the right way."
Lewis was in Norman when he received the shocking news in a text message.
"He was one of my best friends," Lewis said. "I'm still dealing with it. It's not easy to talk about. I stopped asking why. I'm still learning from him. He's still motivating me."
Jones said several players remember Box before workouts.
"We pray for Austin and his family," Jones said. "We pray that Austin's spirit of hard work and selflessness will come upon us and we're able to get past ourselves."
Some think it's a cliché' but sports teams literally are a family.
"These past four years I've spent more time with Travis, Ryan (Broyles) and my teammates than I've spent with my actual family," Jones said. "It's almost become like a second family... You get so close, so connected. Football is such an emotional sport."
A team meeting was held in early June when players returned for summer workouts. Stoops said another team meeting will be held when players report for fall camp next Wednesday.
"You don't understand it but you try to come to grips with it," Stoops said. "Some of it I'm not totally sure (what we'll do). I've got to get with the right people and work through that. Some of it isn't set up, yet.
"It's something, with our team chaplain, we'll have periods if they (players) have something to say or want to get off their chest or let (the chaplain and counselors) help me with how we go about this because it's hard. It's not like it goes away. The hurt is still there."
Stoops reiterated he's never experienced anything like this as a coach. His only experience is a death in his immediate family.
"That's the other part of this," Stoops said. "I can't begin to feel how the (Box) family feels. That's always even harder. It's something you never forget. You have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward."