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September 2, 2011

Venables still thinking of Box family

Honoring Austin Box will be one of the biggest storylines during Saturday's season opener with Tulsa. Box has remained a big part of the Oklahoma program throughout preseason camp after he tragically died over the summer due to an accidental overdose of painkillers and prescription drugs.

Oklahoma will honor Box with a decal on the back of their helmets, but they'll also choose one player to wear Box's No. 12 on defense.

Bob Stoops confirmed the details of that selection earlier this week.

"Travis (Lewis) and Landry (Jones) have sort of worked that out, how they want to do it. Travis will pretty much have control of it," explained Stoops. "I was going to bring that out on Fridays, so the guys can decide. I'll give something to Kenny (Mossman), and everyone would know Saturday. But if someone goes ahead and Twitters it ahead of me, so be it, then you'll know. But that's what I was hoping to do."

"Ultimately he's the leader of the defense so he knows the guys on defense a little better than I do, so he has a little better feel there," added Jones on the decision. "I'm usually just going to do whatever (Travis Lewis) thinks is best. It's really kind of both our decisions, but I'm going to trust his decisions on what we need to do."

While the players will honor Box on Saturday, Austin's family has not decided whether they will attend Saturday's game in Norman.

SoonerScoop.com spoke with Craig Box through email on Thursday and he confirmed the family is still mulling over the decision to attend OU's season opener or stay home to celebrate their oldest daughter Courtney's birthday.

Craig Box said the family hasn't missed a game since 1999.

Austin's family also watched ESPN's All-Access show and Craig Box said he was touched by Gabe Ikard's emotional recollection of his son's funeral.

"Gabe Ikard seems like an impressive young man," said Craig Box through email.

Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said he hopes he'll see the Box family before the Sooners kickoff on Saturday if they do decide to come to Norman.

"I hope so, selfishly speaking, but its still a journey," said Venables. "You get in your little world and you forget and you lose touch of it, sense of it, and they as parents live that thing every day. It's easy for us to try and compartmentalize our lives. That's what we do.

Venables hasn't been able to meet with the Box family since preseason practices started.

"We've been in pretty consistent contact. There was a rough patch. Austin's birthday was in August and Craig had a birthday and they had a lot of things right when camp started. It was bang, bang, bang, bang. It was probably pretty hard."

As difficult as it will be for everyone around the program, Venables thoughts continue to be with the Box family.

"I think particularly, being on the stage that Austin was, I'm sure it's incredibly difficult for them, particularly when the season is back upon us and it's different than you're accustomed to having a "routine" in which they support their son and the Sooners at the same time, so I think this is a terrific opportunity for us to help them as they continue to try to grieve and remember Austin the right way. I know that we feel honored to have that opportunity."


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