(CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif.) Contra Costa County, specifically East County, is well-represented in this year's Pro Bowl and Super Bowl.
Bengals running back Joe Mixon, who will sit out the Pro Bowl to face the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, was replaced by Najee Harris.
Mixon, who was born in Oakley, was a senior in 2013 at Freedom High School in Oakley when Harris was a freshman at the neighboring Antioch High School. Mixon was a two-sport athlete, starting for three years on the varsity football team while playing basketball.
In his senior year, Mixon rushed for 1,704 yards and 23 touchdowns on his way to becoming a five-star recruit. In total, Mixon had 47 offers before he eventually committed to Oklahoma in early 2014.
Najee Harris, born in Martinez, was a standout in his sophomore season at Antioch High School. He rushed for 2,263 yards and 23 touchdowns. His junior year he bested his own records with 2,744 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns. In his final senior season, Harris rushed for 2,776 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Harris received several offers from top-tier programs including the USC Trojans, Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State Buckeyes and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Harris accepted the offer from Alabama and went on to a prolific career for the Tide.
According to reporting from DK Pittsburgh Sport, a 2013 matchup between Freedom High School and Antioch High School served as a critical moment for Harris. Mixon was finishing a standout senior year and receiving offers from a variety of Division I colleges. Harris was yet unknown.
“It was cool because Joe at that time I think he was the No. 1 running back in the country — whatever he was, it was pretty high, though — and I was nobody,” Harris said Friday.
At the time, the matchup drew a massive crowd to the small east county high school and did not disappoint. Mixon and Freedom High won a tough game in overtime despite a season-low, 59 rushing yards. The youngster Harris, however, had 92 rushing yards and his first varsity touchdown while also forcing a Mixon fumble on defense.