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OU linebacker Box found dead

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Police were investigating whether drugs had a role in the death Thursday of Oklahoma senior linebacker Austin Box, and a witness told authorities he believed his friend had overdosed.

Authorities didn't immediately release an official cause of death, and Box's body was sent to the state Medical Examiner's office. Box was 22.

"We're all shocked and heartbroken," Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops said in a statement. "Austin was a great young man, a great young man to coach, and a great teammate."

Stoops' defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, fought back tears and said he was "numb" while talking about Box during an evening news conference at the Switzer Center.

"You can't plan for this," Venables said. "There's no blueprint for it. I just know that a young man was tragically taken from us today."

El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown said officers and medics responded to a call at a house in the town about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City about 9:25 a.m. concerning an unresponsive male "with unknown medical issues." Brown identified the man as Box and said he first was taken to an El Reno hospital, then transferred by air ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City.

According to the police report, El Reno police officer Todd Ward said that upon arriving at the house, he made contact with John Cobble III, who had identified himself to an emergency dispatcher as J.T. Cobble, who is the son of Tom Cobble, who was Box's high school football coach in Enid, Okla.

Ward said in the report Cobble III was performing CPR on Box and that "Cobble told me when I entered the room Box was in he believed he had overdosed."

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