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Bengals point to their college mistakes while welcoming Joe Mixon to Cincinnati

Jeremy Hill, Carlos Dunlap and other Bengals experienced their fair share of mess-ups in college. They were given second chances and have rebounded well. That’s the hope for Joe Mixon, too, as he joins the Bengals.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals got more attention during this year’s NFL Draft than they’re used to, mostly because of the controversial selection of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.

The former Oklahoma star was one of the most electrifying runners in college football last season, but no one can forget his 2014 incident in which he punched a woman. Even though that was three years ago, people are having a tough time forgetting about the terrible incident and video of Mixon hitting a woman, but the current Bengals don’t want to see Mixon defined by that terrible situation.

One Bengal who knows all about second chances in Carlos Dunlap. The star defensive end was hit with a DUI during his final season of college, which, like Mixon, led to a first-round talent falling into Round 2 before Cincinnati scooped him up.

Dunlap not only overcame that mistake, but he’s been a star in the NFL while being a great leader on and off-the-field. He hopes that’s the path Mixon is on.

“Second chances are hard to come by, but if you go about it the right way and people have that feeling it was an isolated incident and you’re not going to let it happen again, I think in the right circumstances you deserve a second shot,” Dunlap told My Dayton Daily News. “We’ve got a lot of veterans in here who have made a lot of mistakes and got back on the right path. I think that’s somewhat a comfort for (team ownership) and why they felt like we have the right guys to pull him in the right direction and bump him and keep him on the railroad tracks.”

Mixon has discussed that the Bengals have a support plan in place for him and that he plans to get involved with community service initiatives in Cincinnati.

“You know how that mamma dog, any time the little pup gets away, nudges him a little bit,” Dunlap said. “I think that’s what they felt like they have in this locker room because we have a lot of those guys who have made mistakes when they were younger but they’ve learned from their mistakes.”

Another Bengal who has a troubled past is Jeremy Hill. His long list of mistakes at LSU almost got him kicked off the team, but he bounced back from those and has been a productive NFL player while maturing and avoiding off-field issues.

“It’s definitely a similar situation,” Hill said. “Obviously people throw out the word ‘character.’ Not knowing the person’s character, it’s easy to do that. From what I’ve heard from the coaches and everyone who has spent time with him and been around him they have nothing but great things to say about him. I’m sure I’ll meet him here pretty soon, and I’m sure I’ll have the same feeling about him.”

Even saying all of this, it’s up to Mixon to make sure the terrible thing he did in college won’t define him. It certainly helps to be in a room with guys who’ve made their own mistakes and rebounded from them, so Mixon has hope for continuing his path to redemption in Cincinnati. Getting there won’t be easy, but if he stays on the straight and narrow path, he’ll get there eventually.