State’s top RB prospect visiting Florida State this weekend, the last of his five visits. He’s staying positive despite team’s struggles and not feeling any pressure about upcoming decision.
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When a guy has as much recruiting hype surrounding him as Joe Mixon does from Freedom of Oakley, it often comes with a flamboyant and sometimes comical attitude and demeanor.
Yes, like almost all top-notch high school athletes, Mixon has a clever Twitter handle, but the PRIMETIME moniker that headlines his @Joe_MainMixon handle isn’t boastful, it’s business, and that’s the way this genuine, sincere, well-spoken and humble-sounding student-athlete operates, both on and off the field.
The list of schools that have offered the 6-2, 195-pound running back doesn’t include one from every state, but with the number of offers being an even 50, they might as well all be represented.
According to Cal-Hi Sports Managing Editor Ronnie Flores, who keeps track of these things, no Northern California recruit has garnered as many offers since De La Salle alums D.J. Williams, currently with the Chicago Bears, and before him Amani Toomer, and that’s in the 1990s.
Mixon has narrowed his choices down to five schools and visited four, Cal, Wisconsin, UCLA and Washington. He left to visit his last finalist, Florida State, almost immediately after Friday night’s 28-27 double overtime victory over Antioch.
Mixon had to shake off the cobwebs to get started in the wee hours Saturday morning, so he could arrive in Tallahassee in time for some fanfare, and then the 8 p.m. kickoff between the nationally-ranked 7-0 Seminoles and down state rival and nationally-ranked 7-0 Miami.
PRIMETIME will have his visits completed, but we’ll still have to wait to find out his final choice.
“Right now, I just want to kick back and enjoy my senior year. I plan on announcing at the Army game (U.S. Army All-American Bowl) on January fourth,” Mixon told Cal-Hi Sports by phone in an early Friday morning interview.
The comparison of the number of offers goes back 15-20 years, but there are other comparisons involving blue chip recruits, both on waiting to commit, and playing on teams that are struggling.
Another comparison that goes that far back is to current New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. In his senior year at Serra (San Mateo), the Padres went 4-6, and when the Pac-10 offers didn’t come in early, he opted for Michigan late in the process.
A more recent comparison is to current USC running back and one of Northern California’s hottest recruits the last few years, Justin Davis from Lincoln of Stockton. While his 2012 Stockton Lincoln team didn’t finish with as bad a record as Freedom currently has, Davis was locked up in a blowout playoff defeat to Elk Grove Franklin. He had some of his best runs just avoiding tacklers and getting back to the line of scrimmage.
We’ve been mentioning struggling teams and we have to tell you, despite PRIMETIME giving it his all, Freedom is struggling, but the young Falcons are not out.
Team is the focus
Despite Saturday being one of the most important days of his life, Mixon, more than anything else, wanted to talk about the team, and wanting to make the playoffs.
With the win over Antioch, the Bay Valley Athletic League finale next week against Brentwood Liberty will decide if the Falcons advance to the CIF North Coast Section Division I playoffs.
Should Freedom defeat a Liberty team that Friday night qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2005, its record would be 5-5 and 3-2 in league and that almost certainly will qualify.
“We’ve been talking a lot about making the playoffs, Mixon remarked. “I have to keep them hyped up and believing we can stay in it. I tell them to just give it your all and we can make it.”
It’s not just hyping the boys up for the playoffs where his teammates look to him for guidance, but in all facets of the game, and off the field as well.
“The team looks at everything I do, every action I make, so I always have to have a positive attitude, even when I’m down. I’m the team leader so I have to step up and get these boys to play. I’ll do anything for them.
Just a regular kid
Around school, there’s no doubt Mixon is the big man on campus, but with it comes responsibilities that some kids act out irresponsibly, but not him.
“Lots of people want to come up and talk to me and I talk to them and listen, and I try to be sociable at school, but at lunchtime I eat with the same buddies every day in the cafeteria.”
Mixon also likes to hang with those same buddies and play Madden video football.
“I like to get on those sticks,” he chuckled.
And what about the classroom action?
“As far as my studies, I’ve been taking care of myself, and the teachers have been very helpful. They all work with me.”
His favorite subject? “Forensic science. It’s cool.”
When you’re the No. 1 recruit at your position in the state, things can get a little heated up.
“I don’t get as many calls as I used to, but at one point I had to change my number it was so annoying,” Joe said.
The youngest of six siblings (three sisters, two brothers) has also had the guidance of his father and role model to guide him through the process. John Mixon, a realtor and personal trainer, was a football and basketball star at Daly City Jefferson.
“I’m not really feeling any pressure,” Joe said. “I try not to worry about it. I’m just trying to love my life as a senior and take it all in.”
Advice for kids
“My advice to boys and girls is to go out there and compete, play hard, grind hard and shine hard. It’s the same way in the classroom. If you don’t grind you won’t shine, and without education you can’t go anywhere.”
Going into the Antioch game, Mixon had rushed for 1,175 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. He also has two TD receptions and has played sparingly on defense where at defensive back he has an interception.
For his career, he’s rushed for a school record 3,752 yards and 76 touchdowns with the yards he gained against Antioch yards yet to be reported, and at least one more game to play.
Right now, the Falcons faithful are hoping Joe “PRIMETIME” Mixon can extend that out by grinding and shining in Oakley just a little bit longer.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend