Hot Links: Remembering Austin Box nine years after his passing

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The former Oklahoma linebacker and Enid High standout tragically lost his life nine years ago today.

On May 19, 2011, the Oklahoma Sooners family lost one of its own with the sudden passing of Austin Box. It’s been nine years since those who knew and loved him said goodbye to the tenacious linebacker with a heart of gold and an unmatched love for the game, but his memory lives on through his achievements as one of OU Football’s finest.

Box is arguably the best football player to ever come out of Enid High School. In 2006, he led his team to the Class 6A title game, playing all over the field at QB, RB, WR and free safety. For that recruiting cycle, the talented playmaker was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Sooner State.

After redshirting in 2007, Box saw the field in 10 games during the ‘08 season, starting four of those contests. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury late in the season, sidelining him down the stretch as OU played its way into the BCS National Championship game.

The next season, Box returned from his injury and earned more playing time. Although the team went 8-5 that year — a letdown by Oklahoma’s standards — Box proved he could be counted on as a key contributor on defense. In 2010, his role increased even more, and his play was especially impactful in both the Big 12 Championship game and the Fiesta Bowl.

In 30 games across three years, Austin Box recorded 106 total tackles, including 12.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

According to his parents, Craig and Gail Box, Austin had a history of sports-related injuries, and over time he was prescribed with a variety of pain medication. Tragically, he took a dangerous mixture of the meds he was prescribed, and was found unresponsive in his home on the morning of May 19, 2011. He was unfortunately unable to overcome the effects the meds had on his system and passed away at the hospital. Box was 22.

Following Austin’s untimely passing, the Box family started the ‘Austin Box “12” Foundation’ with a mission to educate the public on the risks and dangers of prescription drug abuse. To learn more about the foundation, visit austinbox12foundation.com.

Now onto today’s Hot Links! Tom Herman says QB play is the key to dethroning Oklahoma, Lon Kruger expects big things from a certain senior, a South Korean soccer club came up with a whole new meaning for fan service and more!

OU Links

  • OU men’s hoops has officially set up a home-and-home non-conference series with the Florida Gators. The first game will tip-off in Norman this December before the series switches over to Gainesville in 2021.

  • The Oklahoman’s Ryan Aber and Scott Wright co-wrote this piece detailing how Lincoln Riley’s staff at Oklahoma and Mike Gundy’s staff at Oklahoma State have adjusted to the virtual recruiting world over the past two months. During this critical period of the recruiting calendar, the Sooners and Cowboys have found effective ways to sell their programs without the luxury of fielding in-person visits.
  • In a recent Q&A, Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman was asked about what needs to happen in order for his team to dethrone OU as the dominant program in the Big 12. In his opinion, it all comes down to QB play on both sides of the Red River.
  • Almost every sign is pointing towards 2021 five-star QB Caleb Williams committing to Oklahoma, but the D.C. product is taking his time with the recruiting process (and his official announcement). SI Sooners’ Parker Thune assesses the current landscape as this highly anticipated announcement hangs in the balance.
  • The 2019-20 college basketball season was a rollercoaster ride for Austin Reaves, but he wrapped up the COVID-19 interrupted run on the highest of notes. Lon Kruger believes the senior will have an even bigger year once the next campaign tips off, writes the Norman Transcript’s Joe Buettner.
  • During a recent online interview, newly hired OU women’s basketball assistant coach Courtney Paris talked about her goals as she returns to her alma mater. Although her legacy as a dominant player will live on for generations, she aims to lead an all-new legacy as a coach. The Tulsa World’s Eric Bailey has more.
  • This is funny because it’s true. If you’ve ever been around any of these folks, you know these are some pretty accurate impressions.

  • In case you missed it, check out Allen Kenney’s latest post where he takes a closer look at the rise of the spread offense and how the Sooners have played a pivotal role in its evolution.

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