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Joe Mixon’s desire to give back stems from Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch

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The second-year tailback is planning on doing a lot more than just running the football in Cincinnati.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Still just 21 years of age, and one of the youngest players on the roster, Joe Mixon is building a reputation as a local role model in Cincinnati.

This past weekend, A.J. Green held his annual football camp at Sycamore High School just north of Cincinnati, and invited Mixon to lead the camp on its second and final day on Saturday.

Youth football camps were a big part of Mixon’s upbringing as a young player and he embraced the opportunity to act as a leader at such an event for the first time in his professional career.

“I was one of those kids at the age of nine through 12, and I always wanted to be one of the older guys.” Mixon explained. “I always looked up to Marshawn Lynch... because he’s been throwing camps around his community. I used to go there and he gave me motivation, and I always wanted to grow up and do things like that and give back to the community- and that’s basically what I’ve been trying to do back home.”

Lynch has been a staple in the Oakland community where Mixon grew up before playing college football at Oklahoma. One day soon, Mixon hopes to open up a youth camp in Cincinnati under his own name.

“Oh yeah for sure. It’s years in the making but it’s gonna come soon.”

For now, he’s holding a camp in California for locals there, which will be attended by Lunch and a few Bengals players, too.

Mixon has matured quickly as he became the Bengals’ lead back early on in the season despite being behind both Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard at the start of the year.

This year, he’s the presumed starter and new rookie Mark Walton is coming into a similar situation as Mixon was in last year. But Mixon has confidence in all of his fellow running backs.

“Me, Mark, Gio, Tra (Carson), everybody in the running back group, Dub (Jarveon Williams), we all basically have been building a bond and a relationship. And everybody that comes through that running back room we try to give advice and tips to elevate their game... It’s still OTAs, we still got a lot of room to improve, but for the most part it’s been great,” Mixon said.

Despite all that talent behind him, the running game is going through Mixon more than anyone, and he’s not going to give up that opportunity.

“When you get in this situation and given this opportunity, you gotta take it and run with it. I gotta do what I gotta do to make the team better,” he said.

Though his rookie season wasn’t as flashy or productive as some of the other running backs from the 2017 draft class, Mixon’s drive and mentality are pointing forward.

“Everybody’s looking for a breakout season, and I’m sure coach (Lewis) is gonna get us ready for that,” Mixon said, “and we’re gonna do whatever we can to try and get wins around here.”