Horns, Ags To Remember Fallen Teammates Friday

Nothing puts football, or anything else for that matter, into perspective more than the tragic loss of young life. And for the second time in four seasons, Texas A&amp;M is beset with bereavement, this year following the death of freshman DE <B>Brandon Fails </B>who collapsed in his dorm room Monday morning after complaining of nausea and shortness of breath. He was pronounced dead at 9:03 a.m.

The Aggies cancelled practice Monday, while The University of Texas called off the annual Hex Rally slated for later that evening out of respect for Fails’ family. A&M players will wear Fails’ number (89) on their helmets Friday during the nationally televised game (ABC) against Texas.

Aggie coach R.C. Slocum referenced a team "tragedy" during Monday’s media teleconference but understandably withheld specific information until he could speak with Fails family.

Fails was a first-team All-State defensive lineman and was the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Colleyville Heritage High School. He played in four games this fall before injuring a knee in practice.

Longhorn players spoke with media for the first time about Fails’ death at the conclusion of Tuesday’s practice, particularly how to honor another’s life while still maintaining a level of focus and intensity required to be successful on Friday.

"Any time something like that happens you realize that there are a lot more important things than football," CB Rod Babers said. "It’s more important than sports or games or things like that. But we’re all going to play the game. We’ll be focused on the game, but we send our prayers out to the family and to the (A&M) team. We’ve still got to go out there and win this game, regardless of whatever else happens. We are sorry about what happened. We had a tragedy on our team, too."

"Our hearts go out to the family and to the Texas A&M staff and players," head coach Mack Brown said in a released statement. "There is nothing anybody can say. We understand their pain."

Indeed. The Longhorns will pay tribute to Cole Pittman just before the 11 a.m. kickoff as part of Senior Day recognition. Pittman would have graduated with the class of 2003 but was killed February 26, 2001 in a one-car accident while returning to the Forty Acres from his home in Shreveport.

"Cole Pittman, his memory, and his family will be honored at Senior Day, so Mark and Judy (Cole’s parents) will be there," Brown said. "This would have been the four-year class that he would have been involved with."

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