Sooners select Wort to wear Box's No. 12
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Friday, September 02, 2011
NORMAN – Tom Wort, who is replacing the late Austin Box at middle linebacker for Oklahoma, will wear Box's No. 12 against Tulsa Saturday night.
OU coach Bob Stoops made the announcement Friday morning. Stoops said earlier this week that captains Travis Lewis and Landry Jones would lead the selection of the No. 12 jersey wearer every game this season.
The Sooners are also wearing No. 12 decals on the backs of their helmets to recognize Box, the senior linebacker who died May 19.
Wort, who normally wears No. 21, started nine games as a redshirt freshman last year before giving way to Box.
At OU's media day Aug. 6, Wort addressed Box's passing publicly for the first time.
"Nothing can prepare you for losing a close friend," he said. "Austin was a role model to me, a great friend, a great teammate. Losing a friend like that is hard. When something like that happens, you have to lean on someone. We all leaned on each other. We confided in each other. You have to look to your teammates for help and that's what we did. It was hard.
"Every day before workouts we got together and prayed that Austin's presence would be looking down on us. If you want to say it was motivation, it definitely was. But I would say it was heart more than anything. Having him heavy on our hearts is just going to make us work harder.
"He was a great role model, great teammate, smart, tough. Every time I was out there, he was watching me. I watched film with him for hours each day. When I got to the sideline he was always there to ask me what happened. If I made a play, he was always there celebrating with me. It was like having another coach. He helped me out there's no doubt about it. Having an older guy look after you is priceless."
In this September 2010 file photo, Oklahoma assistant Brent Venables with Tom Wort during their football game against Cincinnati. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World File