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Wyo. tries to maintain routine after player death
LARAMIE, WYO. (AP) - Wyoming coach Dave Christensen says his team is trying to maintain its normal routine to help players cope with the death of a teammate in a car accident and prepare for the Cowboys' game against No. 5 Texas.
"We think it will help the kids get their mind on something different at different points of time throughout the day," Christensen said Tuesday during the Mountain West Conference's regular coach's conference call. "And we'll take it one day at a time. There's not a manual on how to do these things."
The team held its regularly scheduled position meetings and practices on Tuesday in preparation for its game Saturday at Texas.
"I thought we had a physical practice, a pretty spirited practice, and it was good the way that they came out and competed today," Christensen said Tuesday evening. "I think that they had an opportunity to take two, two-and-a-half hours to get their minds on something else. I thought they performed well today."
Freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse, 19, of Miami, died in the wreck Monday after he and several other UW teammates visited friends in Fort Collins, Colo., over the weekend.
"Just a great young man, had a smile on his face all the time," Christensen said of Narcisse, who preferred to be called Rube.
One player remained hospitalized Tuesday, while two others were treated and released. Christensen said wide receiver Christian Morgan, 18, of Aurora, Colo., had surgery on his elbow and may be released Wednesday.
The Colorado Highway Patrol says the wreck occurred at about 5:30 a.m. Monday when the players' pickup drifted off U.S. 287 south of the Wyoming state line.
Narcisse was a passenger in the back seat of a vehicle driven by freshman cornerback Trey Fox, 19, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., the patrol said. Another passenger was redshirt freshman linebacker J.J. Quinlan, 19, of Everett, Wash.
Police said it appeared Fox fell asleep and that alcohol and drugs weren't believed to be factors.
None of the four played in Wyoming's 28-20 win over Southern Utah on Saturday.
Christensen said the team plans to wear a helmet decal with Narcisse's initials, and one member of the team will wear Narcisse's No. 12 jersey each game the rest of the season.
Cowboy senior wide receiver David Leonard said it will mean a lot to have Narcisse's jersey on the field.
"It's one of those things where we can't forget what kind of a player and person that he was and so going out and honoring him like that, we just know that when you have his number on, you better play with a lot of heart and enthusiasm because that's what he brought," Leonard said.
Leonard and others talked of being a family and sticking together, something Christensen said was important.
"You know kids are fragile. They're invincible at this age, they think, and how they react to the situation is yet to be seen," the coach said.
The highway on which the accident occurred was the same road where eight UW track and cross country athletes died in a collision with a pickup driven by a drunken driver, who was a member of the UW rodeo team, on Sept. 16, 2001.
"I know that road has claimed a number of lives and that it's been a very tragic road, but in this situation I guess tragedy could have struck if they had taken (Interstate) 80 up also," Christensen said.
Nina McConigley, who taught freshman English, said Narcisse was one of 16 students in her class. She said he sat in the front row, was "very talkative" and was proud of being from Miami.
"He did have a big personality and in a class that small, it's just ... he'll be missed," McConigley said.
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