Hartwig has never discouraged Mixon's physical, punishing running style; the only demand he's ever made has been that Mixon not leave his feet.
“Kids wanna get up and get over, and that's when most kids get hurt,” Hartwig said. “I don't want him to put himself in a bad position by trying to go over the top, or trying to hurdle.
“That's probably the only thing I've ever told him about his running, because I'm not gonna take away what he does best.”
Mixon has been surrounded by plenty of experienced football professionals at Freedom High School. His position coach is former NFL running back Ron Rivers, who played seven seasons with the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, and before the 2013 season, Freedom's offensive line coach was former Seattle Seahawk Frank Beede.
Coincidentally, Beede played his senior collegiate season at Oklahoma Panhandle State, where his position coach was current OU offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh.
“Ron does a great job with Joe,” Hartwig said. “The running backs stuff is all from a pro guy, so he gets a lot of good stuff.”