Running back Joe Mixon rushed for seven touchdowns in Freedom High School's first-round playoff victory two months ago, but something else that night made an even bigger impression on the school's athletic director.
When Freedom was on defense, two young boys were playing catch just off the field. Mixon raised his hand toward one of them, who threw him the ball.
“He played catch with him,” AD Steve Amaro said. “I thought, ‘How many kids in a position like him, who is going to be a Division I scholarship athlete, would take time to make an impact on somebody who is 6 or 7 years old?'”
Those sorts of moments are what make Amaro the most proud, and are what he'll miss most about Mixon when he's thousands of miles from Oakley, Calif., next fall in Oklahoma.
“He doesn't see himself as more or less than anybody else,” Amaro said. “He sees himself as a Freedom student, and I think that's very refreshing. Oklahoma's going to be a great place for him, and he'll be a tremendous benefit to the Oklahoma community.”
Mixon, a five-star running back prospect, committed to the Sooners during the U.S. Army All-American Game earlier this month. It was there that Amaro noticed another moment that he believes represents Mixon's humble personality.
Mixon was the game's Most Valuable Player, and after he rushed for a touchdown, he ran to the U.S. service members in attendance and threw the ball toward them.
“He realized that it's a game played for our service men,” Amaro said. “He represents our school so well.”
Mixon held scholarship offers from dozens of schools around the country, but ultimately picked Oklahoma over UCLA and Wisconsin. In three varsity seasons, Mixon rushed for 4,281 yards and 76 touchdowns.
Mixon is a young high-school senior — he's still 17-years old — but Freedom coach Kevin Hartwig said he's very mature for his age.
“You hardly ever see him down,” Hartwig said. “He just enjoys being a kid.
“For a 17-year old man — or boy — it was incredible how well he handled the recruiting process. He never takes what he has for granted. He works his butt off for everything he has.”