As we sit here in the month of July and inch dangerously closer to the beginning of the college football season, the word “hype” gets thrown around quite a bit. While that talked-about hype generally surrounds the prospects of a certain program, some times it encompasses the prospects of a certain player, especially incoming freshman.
Last year during this time, that hype was centered around Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson. The heavily-touted freshman would immediately see playing time and folks were excited to see what the versatile back could bring to the table in Coral Gables.
And not only did Johnson deliver the goods, he played well enough to have people this season talk about him potentially being the best player in the country.
Johnson broke out for the ‘Canes last season and more than deserves the dubious honor of being named to this list. With 947 yards rushing on 139 carries and 10 touchdowns, he nearly became just the eighth rusher in Miami history to top 1,000 yards. If he can progress upon last year’s impressive efforts, he should easily be able to add that accolade to his resume’ in 2013.
To elaborate upon the versatility part spoken about earlier, Johnson recorded 27 catches out of the backfield for 221 yards and a score. I would definitely look for the Miami offensive coaching staff to try to expose more of Johnson out of the backfield this season.
Now although his performance on offense was probably enough to warrant the back being looked at as a player to watch this season, his special teams impact may have been what pushed him to being viewed as potentially one of the best overall players around.
Adding 892 kick return yards and two touchdowns to his stats proved that there is a variety of ways that the Hurricanes can utilize Johnson to stick a dagger to opposing teams. Between kickoff and punt returns, the freshman finished the season with a grand total of 2,060 all-purpose yards.
With what could possibly be one of the best offensive lines in the nation returning, as well a a majority of his offensive teammates, the prospects for Johnson to be even more impressive this season are phenomenal–and that’s a scary thought. He, QB Stephen Morris and WR Philip Dorsett could make up one of the most dynamic trios in college football offensively.
Jack is the ACC College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS