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OU linebacker Austin Box dies after being found unconscious

University of Oklahoma football player Austin Box was found unconscious Thursday in El Reno by paramedics. Box later was pronounced dead at Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City.
BY BRYAN DEAN AND JAKE TROTTER Modified: May 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm •  Published: May 19, 2011

Police who were sent to an El Reno home where OU football player Austin Box was unconscious Thursday morning were told he had overdosed, according to a police report.

Box, a 22-year-old linebacker, died after being taken to a hospital, authorities said.

El Reno police said paramedics were sent at 9:30 a.m. to 1219 S Reno Ave. J.T. Cobble, a friend of Box's, called 911 and said Box was unconscious and not breathing. The 911 tape was released by police.

“He takes pain pills, and he's not responding to me,” Cobble said.

Box had back surgery in August, the day after OU's second preseason scrimmage.

On the 911 recording, Cobble can be heard calling out Box's name to try to get his attention.

After getting instructions from the dispatcher, Cobble began performing CPR, counting the chest compressions out loud.

Caller was son of high school coach

Box was staying at the El Reno house with Cobble, who is the son of Tom Cobble, Box's high school football coach in Enid. The house is owned by J.T. Cobble's grandfather, Edward Metz, who confirmed his grandson was at the house when paramedics were called. Cobble is a Chickasha High School assistant football coach who previously coached in Enid and El Reno.

According to the police report, Cobble was performing CPR on Box when police arrived. Cobble told police he thought Box had overdosed.

El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown said prescription drugs were found at the house. He said no arrests were made at the house and police had not been called to the house before.

Box was taken to Mercy Hospital in El Reno and later flown to Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City, where he was pronounced dead.

Family, others react

The Box family released a statement through Mercy Health Center.

“The Box family wishes to express their appreciation for the outpouring of sympathy from across the state,” the family said. “We particularly want to thank the University of Oklahoma, the coaching staff and players for their kindness and support. Austin loved everything about Oklahoma — the people, his hometown of Enid and his many close friends. Most of all, Austin loved his family and we loved him. We invite you to join us in celebrating his life.”

Box, who earned his degree in sociology and criminology last weekend, was going into his final season.

After missing the first half of the year with a back injury, Box returned to the starting lineup at middle linebacker midseason and was a big part of OU's late-season resurgence.

“The university family is deeply saddened by the tragic death of student-athlete Austin Box. Our hearts go out to his family and friends,” OU President David Boren said in a statement.

“Austin Box will be greatly missed by his many friends and teammates in the athletics department and all across campus. Grief counseling is being made available to members of the team and his close friends,” OU Athletics Director Joe Castiglione said in a separate statement.

OU head coach Bob Stoops, who is in Europe this week, also issued a statement.

“We're all shocked and heartbroken,” Stoops said. “Austin was a great young man, a great young man to coach and a great teammate. He played an integral part in our success the last three years and was looking forward to a big senior year. As heart-wrenching as this is for us, we know it's even more difficult for his family. More than anything, our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

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