NORMAN — Oklahoma freshman running back Joe Mixon is expected to appear for arraignment Monday on a misdemeanor charge stemming from his role in last month’s alteration with a female OU student near campus.
Mixon’s status with the team — and the university — remains up in the air at this point, but even if the five-star prospect attends classes this semester, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll play any football for Oklahoma in 2014.
The Sooners’ running back situation was already unclear before charges were filed. Sophomores Keith Ford and Alex Ross are carrying a combined 26 carries and 153 yards into the 2014 season — the least amount of running back experience entering any of Bob Stoops’ 16 years as coach.
Until now, the Stoops team with the least amount of running back experience was his first. De’Mond Parker left Oklahoma after his junior year to enter the 1999 NFL Draft, leaving Stoops without any seasoned, veteran running backs for his inaugural campaign in Norman.
At least that year, though, Stoops returned fullback Seth Littrell, who rushed for 205 yards as a freshman in 1998. The 2014 Sooners are even breaking in a new fullback in freshman Dimitri Flowers.
Seniors Michael Thornton and Reggie Skinner — who entered the 1999 season with a combined 39 rushes for 129 yards for their OU careers — were the top two options in the OU backfield until both were injured by the eighth game, when Stoops was forced to burn true freshman Quentin Griffin’s redshirt status.
Griffin finished with 371 yards rushing in five games, and went on to become one of the best players of the Stoops era. His 3,938 career rushing yards rank fifth in OU history, behind only Billy Sims, Joe Washington, Adrian Peterson and Steve Owens.
After Griffin’s senior year, the Sooners returned veterans Kejuan Jones and Renaldo Works in 2003.
The likes of Peterson, Allen Patrick, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray meant Oklahoma didn’t come into any season without solid experience in its backfield for the next several years.
Even in 2011, when walk-on Dominique Whaley earned the starting job after a few games, the Sooners brought sophomores Brennan Clay and Roy Finch, both of whom played as freshmen in 2010.
Finch was even a preseason All-Big 12 selection in 2011.
Ford calls himself “the old guy” in Oklahoma’s running back room, amazing considering he’s 20-years old with 23 career carries to his name.
“I learned from the group before,” Ford said. “They really brought me in and taught me the playbook and everything like that. I thought it was my job to do the same.
“It’s hard. Talking to them and walking through it with them really makes it easier for them and allows them to learn it faster. Being the old guy means you have to take some responsibility for the younger guys and make sure they’re learning the material.”