Miami Hurricanes running back Randy “Duke” Johnson should not be a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate ─ he should be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. I don’t see why someone as talented and dynamic as Johnson should be viewed as an underdog.
The 2012 ACC Rookie of the Year is reluctant to talk about himself in this manner, though. He tries to steer most conversations towards the team and focus on winning, but with his incredible freshman year, the media understandably likes to make him the focal point.
The 5’9”, 195 pound back resembles Jamaal Charles with the way he runs. He has very good speed, great agility, can make himself fit through the small holes, and can make big things happen out in space.
Last season, Johnson split time with senior running back Mike James and still led the team in rushing with 947 yards on just 139 carries yielding an impressive 6.8 yards per carry. The versatile back also showed off his pass-catching ability with 221 receiving yards on 27 receptions. He finished the season strong with three 100-yard-rushing performances in his last four games including 150 yards at Virginia, and 176 yards at Duke.
He also had a great season returning kickoffs with an average of 31.9 yards on 28 returns with two going for touchdowns. There is very little the exciting athlete can’t do. With James graduating last year, Johnson will likely see a much bigger role in the offense in the upcoming season, but Miami still plans on having him return kicks.
While some other college athletes are making news for partying, or barking at police dogs, Johnson is focused on doing what it takes to win games. In the offseason he has been working hard and putting on mass to help prepare for his larger workload.
It’s very refreshing to see a young, extremely talented athlete with such a mature approach to the game. The sky is the limit for Johnson as he will be one of the most exciting players to watch in the 2013 season.