Austin Box has had some really outstanding moments as a starting linebacker for Brent Venables and the Oklahoma Sooners. He's also had some really low moments as he fought to work his way onto the field as a freshman, only to be setback by injuries time and again. Heading into the 2010 season, Box is healthy and he's ready to make a run at the starting middle linebacker job. A job that might have been his if he hadn't been knocked out by the injury bugs so many times during his OU career.
Q: How is the health? Austin Box: I feel real great. It's the first time, since I've been here, that I've gone and participated in the full winter, spring and summer workouts without any injuries. I feel really good. Again, it's probably the best I've felt since I've been here.
Q: So you're 100 percent? Box: Yes.
Q: When did you feel like you were back to full health? Box: Really when we started this last semester back in January I felt good. I had recovered from all my injuries and I knew that I needed to have a good winter, a good spring and a good summer. Up until now I felt like I've been putting all of those pieces of the puzzle together. I guess I can say now is when I really felt like I'm where I need to be as far as health is concerned.
Q: Every time I see you you're sporting a different hair look, what's up with that? Box: Yeah, I like to change it up. I'm not one of those guys who likes to stick with the same thing for too long. I had it shaved for two years and I felt like now it was time to grow it back out.
Q: Your time here at Oklahoma has been like a roller coaster. You've had to prove yourself and then you get hurt. Then you have to prove yourself again and some off the field issues have maybe pushed you back once more. Where do you see yourself right now, what do you see as your role? Box: You're right, it has been a roller coaster. But I feel like my role is to contribute to the team in any way possible. Whether it is a back up at a couple of positions, contribute on special teams or in any other capacity. Regardless what I'm doing though, me and my teammates work towards one goal and that's winning a Big 12 championship and then hopefully a national championship. That's what we strive for every day.
Q: How frustrating has it been to have had that roller coaster ride? Box: Well it's not easy, and it's definitely frustrating. But I, just as well as anyone, know that that's part of life and that's part of the game. It's something you have to deal with and it's something you have to work through and grow from. Hopefully at the end of it I will come out a better person.
Q: Can you talk about this linebacker corps? It seems as if it could be one of the more talented corps in the last decade. Box: No doubt, there are a bunch of us. I think it's by far the most number that we've had since I've been here. And there's so much talent, so much young talent. Watching some of the younger guys play, it's like the game is changing. Every year a new set comes in here and they look bigger and stronger than the ones before.
Q: Things could obviously change, but in the spring Coach Venables indicated the he might use a rotation of linebackers. Box: Yeah, and as a corps that's what you want. You want a lot of guys who can go out there and take the reps. It's a long season and it's good to have guys who can step in. It takes away from fatigue during the game and long term, it helps preventing injuries. I feel real good about this core.
Q: Austin, what's one thing you feel the team, as a whole, needs to answer over the next two or three weeks of fall practice? Box: Whether or not we can finish games is a big thing. That's where I felt like we fell short a lot of times last year. In all of our losses, we had a chance to win in the fourth quarter, and that's football. We need to be the team who can finish the strongest. That's been our emphasis thorough the winter and the spring and that's what it's more than likely going to be through the summer. We need to be able to finish games.
Q: The big name around here already is running back Roy Finch. Box: (Laughing) Oh my goodness. We've already been through one practice and you can already tell that he's going to make some people miss this fall. Heck, he'll probably make me look stupid a few times. He's a great young talent and I'm excited to see him on the field.