FIU linebacker Luke Knox practiced Wednesday morning.
By that night time, Knox, 22, had died of unknown causes, forsaking many shocked family members, together with FIU coach Mike MacIntyre, who has identified Luke’s household for many years.
When the news of Knox’s demise broke, FIU canceled Thursday’s observe.
On Friday, the crew practiced with heavy hearts. After observe, MacIntyre spoke to a number of media members for 12 minutes, and he didn’t break down till the very finish.
“I was proud of how they worked today,” MacIntyre mentioned when requested what he informed his gamers after observe. “They always pray as a team after practice. Today, they prayed for Luke and his family and then um …”
After choking again tears, MacIntyre mentioned: “We usually break [the huddle] by saying ‘FIU.’ Today they said, ‘Let’s break it down for Luke,’ and I thought that was fitting.”
Knox, who was new to FIU this yr after transferring in from Ole Miss, performed his highschool ball in Tennessee at Brentwood Academy.
That occurs to be the alma mater for MacIntyre and his spouse, Trisha.
“I’ve known [Knox’s] father [David] since I was 16,” MacIntyre mentioned. “We all went to Brentwood, walked the same hallways. We have some of the same friends. Luke’s family grew up about 10 houses from my in-law’s place.
“I think the world of David and [Luke’s mother] Rachel Knox. They are unbelievable parents and unbelievable people.”
MacIntyre mentioned he was “outside the emergency room for hours and hours” on Wednesday night time, speaking with Knox’s dad and mom, who’re primarily based in Nashville.
“My wife and I picked up David and Rachel [Thursday] at 1:35 in the morning and took them to the hospital,” MacIntyre mentioned. “We’re in the process of working through this. There is a lot of love for the family.
“We miss Luke dearly. It’s a young man that I love and cherish. I coached him at Ole Miss. I’ve known him for a while. Getting him here was really exciting.”
Now there’s simply grief.
MacIntyre mentioned that when the time is correct he’ll let his gamers determine what kind of tribute they need to make for Knox, whether or not it’s a patch on their jerseys or one thing else.
“I would say the mood of the team is sad,” MacIntyre mentioned. “They miss their friend.
“But they are trying to work through this as a group of young men. I haven’t seen any anger, but that goes in stages, too, in recovery. … I do see a group that is coming together.”
MacIntyre mentioned it was mentally “healthy” for his gamers to observe Friday.
In truth, one participant even thanked MacIntyre for holding observe, saying: ‘We really needed to get going.”
MacIntyre said he can relate to his athletes right now because he lost a teammate during his playing days at Georgia Tech. That’s as a result of former Georgia Tech tight finish Chris Caudle drowned whereas fishing off of a 12-foot aluminum boat on May 15, 1988.
Caudle, who was 20, couldn’t swim.
“He was a good of friend of ours,” MacIntyre mentioned of Caudle. “Because of that, I have a little bit of an understanding what our players are going through.”
MacIntyre mentioned he talked to coaches who’ve misplaced gamers. MacIntyre additionally talked to consultants in psychology and grief counseling.
After these conversations, MacIntyre mentioned the FIU coaches and gamers spent a lot of Thursday collectively, consuming Chick-fil-A for lunch and “sat around and talked and visited.”
For dinner, the crew had pizza, watched a film and frolicked collectively.
Three or 4 gamers opted out of Friday’s observe, coping with grief in their very own approach.
“There’s no perfect formula,” MacIntyre mentioned. “You love the kids. You listen to them.
“You don’t know when it’s going to hit you. This [grief] will go into the season. But the players are handling it the best they can.”