With expectations sky-high for the Oklahoma Sooners in 2014, the latest news out of Norman won’t make many fans happy. Five-star freshman running back Joe Mixon was reportedly involved in an altercation that has resulted in assault charges being filed against him. As a result, the University has suspended the back for the entire 2014 season, though he is eligible to remain in school on scholarship. The loss of Mixon puts a huge burden on a running back group that will now be very thin on options this fall.
The Sooners were already expecting to take a major hit in the experience department this offseason with the team’s top three running backs graduating from the 2013 squad. Brennan Clay, Damien Williams, and Roy Finch combined to be an effective senior trio last fall, combining for 1,857 yards and 13 touchdowns. Keith Ford was the only returning back that saw any significant action as he rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries during his freshman season.
While Oklahoma was bracing for a young group of backs, they were counting on the talent level to remain high. Mixon was a five-star recruit and the top signee in the Sooners’ 2014 recruiting class. Bob Stoops had talked about the young back starting for the Sooners this season as his talent allowed him to make an immediate impact on a depth chart that was lacking proven talent. Without him in the mix, sophomore Alex Ross and freshman Samaje Perine, a pair of four-star recruits themselves, will fill out the depth chart.
There’s no guarantee that Mixon’s talent would have translated to the college level right away but the young running back had all the tools to provide an instant impact in 2014. Without him, Oklahoma faces a serious depth issue at running back. Will the Sooners find enough bodies to fill out their backfield or will Mixon’s suspension expose a potential weakness in OU’s run at a national title in 2014?