NORMAN — After five-star running back Joe Mixon committed to Oklahoma last month, it didn't take long for comparisons to Adrian Peterson to begin appearing on Twitter, message boards and even in the pages of The Oklahoman.
Just as quickly, some fans and pundits responded that such comparisons are premature and unfair to Mixon, especially considering the fact that he hasn't played a single snap on Owen Field.
Mixon's position coach at Freedom High School in Oakley, Calif., though, didn't shy away from the Peterson talk.
“It's not unfair,” said Ron Rivers, who played seven seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons. “I've been saying he looks like Adrian Peterson since his first year he came up to play. He's like a carbon copy of the guy.”
Mixon, the No. 1 all-purpose back in the 2014 recruiting class according to Rivals, rushed for 4,281 yards and 76 touchdowns in three varsity seasons at Freedom High.
“He has so much potential, it's unreal,” Rivers said. “You don't see many kids like that in high school. You see kids with the same kind of attributes, but not with that size.”
Oklahoma running backs coach Cale Gundy said Mixon shows “some aspects of both of them,” referring to Peterson and DeMarco Murray.
“You can put him in the slot, you can run him down the field and catch the ball on verticals and seams and smashes and DeMarco Murray can do that,” Gundy said. “He has a combination of both of those guys and obviously once he gets here this summer, we'll see how good he wants to be.
“Can you be as good as both of those guys? He has some of the attributes that some of those guys have.”
The Sooners' running back competition entering 2014 should be one of the more intriguing preseason position battles. Oklahoma lost seniors Brennan Clay, Roy Finch and Damien Williams, and the only returning running back with any collegiate seasoning is Keith Ford, who rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries as a true freshman last year.
Between Ford, Mixon, Samaje Perine — another incoming freshman with a tremendous upside — and Alex Ross, who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2014, the Sooners seemingly have lots of good options, but not much experience.
“We've got a great group of guys coming in,” said OU quarterback Trevor Knight. “The young guys have been doing a great job.
“(Mixon) is a good player. We're excited to have him. He's got all the tools. If he comes in and works hard, he'll do great things.”