NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Cale Gundy backtracked just a bit when he talked about signee Joe Mixon.
No, no, no, he didn’t say Mixon was comparable to Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray, two former Sooner running backs now in the NFL, Gundy said Mixon has comparable traits.
Semantics? Just details? OK, sure, but one thing no one will deny or step back from is that Mixon’s success or failure will ultimately define this Oklahoma recruiting class that was announced Wednesday.
"I believe it’s one of the better recruiting classes we’ve had," coach Bob Stoops said.
The reason is Mixon. He’s the first 5-star recruit Oklahoma has gotten since defensive tackle Gerald McCoy signed with the Sooners in 2006. McCoy was an Oklahoma City kid. Mixon is from Oakley, Calif., meaning the Sooners reached far and wide to get him to come to Norman.
"We’re a strong, national brand," Stoops said.
Well, things certainly point that direction after OU wrapped up a Sugar Bowl victory dominating Alabama, but Mixon’s career at Oklahoma will go a certain distance in promoting that brand even more.
"He’s a five star, and when people immediately hear that around here, they think of Adrian Peterson," said Carey Murdock, who runs Soonerscoop.com, a site devoted to Oklahoma sports, focusing on football. "He (Mixon) wore 28 because of Peterson in the All-American game and people put two and two together and think they are getting another guy who is going to play in the NFL."
That’s the thing Gundy was getting at and thatâs the thing that will be the best barometer for this class. If Mixon is successful, OU will be.
Sure is a lot of pressure to put on a kid that hasn’t played a down yet, but then again Mixon hasn’t run from the hype, he’s done a pretty good job of creating more of it.
Mixon is ranked as the top running back in the nation by Rivals.com after running for 4,281 yards and 54 touchdowns in his career at Freedom High. He ran for 1,443 last year averaging 7.2 yards per carry. He turned down Auburn and Florida State and Notre Dame and Texas. He turned up everywhere.
"The intriguing thing about Joe is that he saw the big picture," Gundy said. Joe wanted to go somewhere when he’s done, that is going to put him in the best position to make him available on the next level. We have two guys who start in the NFL, and one guy is the best in the NFL. Not all 17 year olds look at that."
Mixon likely did see Peterson and Murray and the success they have had. He also might have seen Oklahoma as an opportunity to be a star, not later, but as soon as this season. OU lost leading rusher Brennan Clay and also Roy Finch. There’s an opportunity for Mixon to contribute immediately.
Which means there’s an opportunity to judge him immediately, too. That may or may not be good, but Mixon should be used to it. He used Twitter aggressively on the days leading up to the Under Armour All-American game to tout himself and his future. He ultimately picked Oklahoma during the game and then went back to Twitter to make pitches to other high school players all over the map to come join him at Oklahoma.
"No doubt, players recruit players," Stoops said. "Joe did a great job connecting with other players."
Now people are going to connect this class with Mixon, right or wrong and everything in between.
"Joe definitely has asked for people to follow him (on Twitter) and made it clear he wants the attention," Murdock said.
Mixon has definitely got plenty of it. He’ll get more, too, when August rolls around.