Duke Johnson – Widely regarded as the state's top recruiting prospect in the 2012 recruiting class, Johnson came to Miami with big expectations. And it didn't take him long to make an impact, running for 135 yards and a pair of scores in Miami's opener against Boston College. He didn't see a major workload early in the season (27 carries during his first three games compared to 45 over his final three) and that helped him get even better as the season wore on. Johnson topped 100 yards rushing in three of the final four games this season, and ended the season with 947 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Like James, he was also a big part of the passing game, bringing in 27 catches for 221 yards and a score. In addition to being Miami's best offensive player for most of the season, he was also the most dangerous kick returner in the ACC. He averaged 33 yards per return, and took two back for scores. Johnson won ACC Rookie of the Year earlier this week, and was one of the nation's premier freshmen.
Eduardo Clements – After being Miami's top short-yardage back to finish out the 2011 season, Clements seemed destined to play that role again in 2012. Instead, his season was cut short after seven games due to an injury. The junior carried the ball 16 times for 70 yards and two scores. After gaining just five yards on seven carries, including an early fumble against Kansas State, to start the season Clements saw his role in this offense decrease. With 22 carries in 17 Division 1 games in Jedd Fisch's offense, Clements just hasn't had a big role for whatever reason. He averaged 3.0 yards per carry this season, and only caught two passes in seven games so it's obvious he wasn't likely going to play a major role, even if he hadn't gotten injured.
Dallas Crawford – After redshirting in 2011 and not seeing the field on offense in 2012 until Clements was injured, Crawford has played a very limited role up until now. Interestingly, nearly all of his snaps this season came while playing quarterback. He ran six times out of the wildcat formation for 23 yards, and threw the ball twice – completing one for 29 yards. A former prep quarterback, Crawford is a special teams star on coverage units as well.
Danny Dillard – Redshirted. He arrived at UM overweight, according to Al Golden, but has trimmed down and gotten his conditioning to where it needs to be.
2012 Recap: James had the best season of his college career, and played well enough for Miami to be very successful on offense. He wasn't flashy but he was rock solid in all areas of his game. Johnson provided a major spark and was an absolute difference maker in several of Miami's close wins this season. The two combines for over 2,000 yards of total offense, giving the Canes one of the best 1-2 punches in the ACC at the running back position. Clements started the season ahead of Clements and even when he got hurt, Clements didn't see the field much at running back.
Looking ahead to 2013: James will likely be playing on Sundays this time next year. Johnson averaged 13.8 touches per game this season. After he spends an offseason of adding weight and strength, he will likely see closer to 17-18 touches per game next season. Not only does he have a chance to be Miami's best player, he has a chance to become one of the best players in all of college football. One of the biggest priorities for the Canes over the next few months will be to find or develop a second option behind Johnson. It's possible Clements or Crawford becomes that guy, but considering their lack of touches at the position this season, it makes you wonder. A true freshman, perhaps someone like 5-star Alex Collins, could end up seeing major playing time at the position. It'll be interesting to see whether Dillard stays at running back or moves to fullback, where he would add some quality versatility because of his speed and athleticism.