MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Joe Mixon finally faced the media Tuesday, but the Oklahoma running back still wasn't talking about an assault case that led to him being suspended for the entire 2014 season.
Mixon attended Orange Bowl media day at Sun Life Stadium with his coaches and teammates, after being off-limits to reporters' scrutiny all year.
He was instantly the center of attention, surrounded by more media than star players such as quarterback Baker Mayfield. But Mixon was flanked for the entire hourlong session by Oklahoma's assistant athletic director for communications, Mike Houck, who made sure the player didn't respond to questions about the legal case.
''I told you I'm not going to answer that,'' Mixon said at one point. ''You keep asking, but I already told you that's not happening.''
The case stemmed from allegations that he punched a woman in the face before the 2014 season. Mixon entered an Alford plea to the misdemeanor charge, performed 100 hours of community service, and underwent counseling.
With a heightened focus on domestic abuse cases, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops faced criticism for his decision to keep Mixon on the team. The coach has always insisted that he made the right call to give him another chance after he served the suspension.
This season, while backing up Samaje Perine, Mixon ranked second on the team with 749 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
''He met strict penalties and consequences for his actions,'' Stoops said. ''Moving forward, he's got strict standards that he's got to continue to live up to in a positive way. He's done that. As a young person, he's grown and he continues to grow and mature in every way, shape and form. Hopefully that will continue.
''It was a difficult situation,'' the coach added. ''He's been given a second chance and he's made the most of it.''
Stoops acknowledged that Mixon was under strict orders not to discuss the assault case during media day. With Houck lurking at his side, there was little chance of the player wavering from those instructions.
''There are concerns with all my guys, what they might or might not say,'' Stoops said with a wry smile.
Outside linebacker Eric Striker chided the media for continuing to focus on Mixon's troubles off the field.
''We've moved on. That's old news,'' Striker said. ''Joe's a great guy. Everyone makes mistakes.''
Toward the end of the session, Mixon repeatedly looked around and tugged at his jersey, like he was ready to go.
''I've definitely been at the low,'' he said. ''But I'm at a high point in my life.''
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