For the Miami Hurricanes to take the next step towards returning to the top of college football in 2014, there’s no question that Duke Johnson will have to be a major part of their success. Despite playing in just eight games last season, Johnson was one of the most productive backs in the ACC. With a clean bill of health this fall, he’s poised to run away from the competition as the best running back in the conference.
During his sophomore season, Johnson led the Canes with 920 yards rushing on 145 attempts with six touchdowns despite missing five games with an ankle injury. His yardage was the fifth most in the ACC (against everyone else who played 12 or 13 games) and his 115 yards per game average ranked second in the conference behind only Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams.
While he has struggled to stay healthy during his time with Miami, the coaching staff appears confident that he will be able to handle the workload this season. Despite missing spring practice while still recuperating from his ankle injury, the Canes moved Dallas Crawford, who filled in admirably for Johnson when he got hurt last year, to defense. That leaves the running back job for Johnson with some young, unproven talent behind him.
There’s no denying the talent level of Duke Johnson. Whenever he gets his hands on the ball, he’s a threat to take it to the house if he finds a bit of space. As long as he stays on the field in 2014, he will make the Miami offense extremely dangerous as they take a run at the ACC title this fall.