Joe Mixon wore Adrian Peterson's No. 28 as a Freedom High School freshman in Oakley, Calif., but was disappointed to find out a year later that the varsity squad didn't have that jersey.
“He had to be 20,” said Freedom coach Kevin Hartwig. “He kept saying, ‘You've gotta buy 28.'”
Hartwig never bought Mixon a new jersey, but that never stopped the five-star running back prospect from playing like Peterson, the former Oklahoma standout and Minnesota Vikings superstar whom Mixon idolizes.
Peterson set NCAA freshman records with his 339 carries and 1,925 rushing yards in 2004, was the Heisman Trophy runner-up that year and has since become one of the NFL's best players. While it would be unfair to expect the same immediate results from any freshman, many have drawn comparisons between the two five-star running backs whose commitments to Oklahoma came nearly 10 years apart to the day.
Mixon gave his verbal pledge to the Sooners early last month, and did it almost exactly how Peterson did in January 2004 — during the U.S. Army All-American Game, wearing jersey No. 28 and within days of an Oklahoma Sugar Bowl appearance against a Nick Saban-coached opponent.
The similarities don't stop there. Mixon is listed at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds. When Peterson joined the Sooners out of Palestine (Texas) High School, he was 6-2 and 210 pounds.
Both players also have become known as tough, physical runners.