Michigan will look to add some elite talent to an already strong stable of running backs in this year's recruiting class. Could talented halfback Joe Mixon eventually join the Wolverines' class of 2014?
It's hard not to watch Mixon's tape and think of 2013 five-star running back Ty Isaac, who also possessed an elite blend of size, athleticism and receiving ability. Mixon is every bit as tall and quick as Isaac, but he runs with more authority and isn't afraid to lower his shoulder. Isaac is special because of his unique blend of attributes; Mixon is scary special because of his added blend of physicality.
Mixon currently stands around 6'1", 205 pounds. He's rated as a four-star running back by every major scouting service, although I expect him to be a five-star when all is said and done. His build is unique: he has skinny ankles and long legs, yet he's muscular in the hip area and shows plenty of strength in his upper body as well. He could put on a solid fifteen pounds of muscle in college without losing a step.
Joe's game is as well-rounded as they come. He returns kicks and punts for his team, catches the ball out of the backfield and even lines up in the slot on long downs. He carries the ball high and tight more often than not, although he can get careless with it in the open field every now and then; this isn't abnormal for a high school running back. He runs straight up and down at times, but he still shows the ability to lean into cuts and shuffle his feet, especially for a running back who's over six feet tall. He has solid knee drive in his running motion, making it hard for defenders to bring him down with arm tackles, and even harder for them to catch him once he reaches the second level. In short, Mixon has offers from nearly every elite program in the country because he has a skill set that might be the best of any back in the class.
Mixon's offer sheet is ridiculous: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC, Wisconsin and countless other schools have all thrown offers his way. The only elite school in the country which has yet to offer Mixon is Alabama, who will most likely put an offer out to him as well.
It looks like a battle of the Pacific schools as of now, although it's extremely early in his recruitment and anyone could rise up at any time. He has visited California and went to Southern California's junior day, where he was offered on the spot.
As far as Michigan goes, no one really knows just how much of a factor the Wolverines will be. He told reporters that the coaching staff has him as the number one running back on their board; if this is true the coaching staff will surely put the press on him throughout the recruiting process.
It's way too early to predict where Mixon ends up. He's almost a clone of Ty Isaac, who stayed committed to USC despite a mess of negative press surrounding the program. I don't see him following Isaac to a school that seems to be on the downswing in the world of college football. We do know that everyone wants this kid on board, so expect his recruitment to be long and hotly contested.