Which Team in Joe Mixon's Top 5 Needs the 5-Star RB the Most?
5-star running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif.) would make any offensive backfield in the country improve exponentially. The coveted class of the 2014 playmaker gave America a glimpse of his thought process on Monday afternoon, revealing the top five schools currently under consideration.
He's the latest recruit to use Twitter as a podium, pronouncing Oklahoma, Florida, California, Wisconsin and Oregon as the cream of the crop among programs currently in hot pursuit of his services. Mixon didn't give any indication of when he plans to announce a decision, but you can bet those five coaching staffs are feeling a little better about their chances.
The 6'2", 195-pound Freedom High School standout seemingly has his pick of any squad in the country. Scholarship offers from Arizona, Arkansas, USC, Auburn, Georgia, Miami, Texas, Tennessee, Florida State and Michigan are just a few of many in his mailbox, according to 247Sports.
Mixon has superior sideline speed, but his best attribute is an ability to bulldoze through defenders between the tackles. Elite acceleration gives him an edge against back-seven defenders due to the velocity he develops by the time he darts past the line of scrimmage.
He churned out 1,443 yards on the ground as a junior and tallied 30 total touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. Mixon also displayed excellent hands in the passing game, accounting for 383 receiving yards.
247Sports composite rankings place him third in California's 2014 class and atop the national list among all-purpose backs. Now that we know his top five desired destinations, let's examine which team needs Mixon most.
The Sooners have an immediate need at running back because the current crop of ball carriers is led by a cluster of seniors. Damien Williams and Brennan Clay—last season's leading rushers—enter their final year of eligibility.
Reserve back Roy Finch, who has six career scores, is also a senior. Freshman Keith Ford could develop as an impact player down the line, but he would have trouble holding off Mixon next year.
The Gators are in pretty good shape at tailback, although no player is established as a primary every-down force. Sophomore Matt Jones made his way up the depth chart after limited action last season.
True freshman Kelvin Taylor was a premier member of the 2013 class and could snatch a starting role by season's end. Still, Mixon would arguably give Florida its most explosive offensive playmaker since Percy Harvin.
The Gators gained a commitment from Miami product Dalvin Cook in April. The fellow 5-star is the third-ranked running back in the nation, according to 247Sports consensus rankings, so it would be a surprise to see Mixon end up in Gainesville.
The Golden Bears, along with Oklahoma, are considered favorites to sign Mixon, according to the 247Sports interest meter. California would love to keep the young man in his home state.
Cal's backfield currently features a bevy of players in contention for carries.
Junior Brendan Bigelow is the team's top returning rusher, but he carried the ball just 44 times in 2012. Sophomores Daniel Lasko and Darren Irvin figure to be in the mix, but neither has proven themselves on the college stage, while true freshman Khalfani Muhammad was a three-star recruit in Cal's 2013 recruiting class.
The Badgers have a rich history of pounding the ball between the tackles, which makes Wisconsin a sensible selection for many running back recruits. The Badgers landed 2013 recruit Corey Clement, who set a southern New Jersey record for most career rushing yards while at Glassboro High School, but he figures to take a back seat in his first year on campus.
Senior James White takes the reigns as lead back in 2013 after a junior campaign that featured 13 total touchdowns, while redshirt sophomore Melvin Gordon is an excellent change-of-pace option.
Taiwan Deal, a 2014 commit from Maryland, is considered a 3-star recruit in 247Sports composite rankings. His presence won't deter the Badgers' coaching staff from chasing Mixon until national signing day.
Spread offense innovator Chip Kelly is no longer in Eugene, but the Ducks remain a hot destination for skill players. Oregon has emerged as a perennial Pac-12 contender and you can't overstate what the Nike factor does for the program's public image.
Junior De'Anthony Thomas is among the nation's most feared weapons but could bolt early for the NFL with another strong season. Sophomore Byron Marshall came on strong during stages last season.
The most dynamic member of this backfield may be its newest addition. Thomas Tyner, a 5-star recruit in the 2013 class, runs a 4.30 40-yard-dash and was ranked the No. 1 running back recruit by 247Sports consensus rankings.
Landing the top high school rusher two years in a row may be too much to ask.
Where will Joe Mixon play college football?
California is the squad with the most to gain from a Mixon commitment. The Golden Bears lack experience and depth at running back and have yet to secure a national top-tier back in its 2014 recruiting class.
Additionally, if Cal is able to convince Mixon to stay in-state, it would increase the program's chances of adding additional star talent from California's excellent 2014 class. Cal is clearly the team on this list that could offer Mixon 20 carries per game as soon as he sets foot on campus.
He could also mature with quarterback Jared Goff, who is set to start as a true freshman this fall.
B/R college football columnist Tyler Donohue spent three seasons with the Rutgers University football program's recruiting department, contributing to three classes (2007-09) under head coach Greg Schiano.
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