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OU football team still struggling with death of teammate Austin Box

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Published: July 26, 2011

"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."