On the football field, T.J. Mixson is a standout wide receiver for the Hampton University football team. He’s done well in the classroom too, having walked at graduation this past spring with his bachelor’s degree in sports management. This coming fall, as he plays his final season of college football, Mixson will be a graduate student working toward his master’s degree in sports administration.
But this summer, Mixson was enjoying something new. He was interning for Under Armour, the Baltimore-based apparel company that recently reached an agreement to become the official apparel provider for Hampton’s athletic program.
“One of my professors was telling me about all the previous alums doing internships with Nike and other companies. I wanted to do something different and make a name for myself,” said Mixson, a Charlotte native who when he applied to Under Armour’s internship program was unaware that the company would soon be providing uniforms and other gear to Hampton. “I’ve trained a lot of corporate guys, learned about the body and different workouts. It’s completely different from being back at school.”
Mixson spent the summer living in suburban Baltimore, taking the train into the city each day. But while learning about the apparel and training businesses, he also had an eye on the fall, when he will be one of the most experienced players on Hampton’s roster.
Mixson caught 59 passes for 1,027 yards and nine touchdowns last season, all team highs, and was named to the all-MEAC first team. He had game-highs of six catches for 119 yards in the Pirates 37-19 victory over Howard in the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic. The teams meet again in this year’s Classic on September 17 at RFK Stadium.
But last year’s accomplishments came with University of Virginia transfer David Watford slinging the ball across the field as the Pirates’ quarterback. With training camp beginning, Coach Connell Maynor has yet to name a starter.
“This season I just want to continue to bring that winning mentality to the team,” Mixson said. “Everybody knows what I can do. I want to win some championships for the team. It’s not about the numbers this year – I’d like to put up some good numbers, but at the end of the day it’s about winning. That’s what I want to be a part of.”
Maynor is excited to have Mixson back as one of the team’s leaders. In a season in which Hampton is likely to rely on several newcomers and other inexperienced players – 24 players completed their eligibility in 2015 – Mixson is one player that Maynor knows will be ready.
“T.J. is a great person, great leader, great football player. As good as he is on the football field, he is just as good off the field,” Maynor said. “He is almost the perfect kid. If I had a son, I would want him to be like T.J. He is well-mannered. He’s a winner – and that’s in his schoolwork and on the football field and everything he does. And he’s going to go about it the right way.
“He’s the perfect example of what a football player is supposed to do when he goes to college: Get your degree, play football and have a great time.”
The AT&T Nation's Football Classic® is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Now in its sixth year, the 2016 game features Howard University against Hampton University and will be played on Saturday, September 17.