2014 Player Analysis: Duke Johnson

Duke Johnson was on his way to an incredibly successful sophomore season before an ankle injury suffered against Florida State ended it. He's back and primed to become one of the nation's elite running backs.

As a recruit: Duke Johnson committed to Miami very early in the recruiting process. He committed to the Hurricanes when Randy Shannon was still head coach during the fall of 2010. He never wavered on that, even through the coaching change, and never took any other official visits. Johnson was recruited like a five-star player out of Norland High in Miami. He finished his senior season with 1,957 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns while helping the Vikings to the Class 5A state championship.

As a Hurricane: It didn't take Johnson long to make a big impact as a true freshman in 2012. He finished that first season with 947 rushing yards, 221 receiving yards, and 11 offensive touchdowns despite splitting time with senior Mike James. He also had close to 1,000 kick return yards and two touchdowns. Johnson became the full-time starter as a sophomore in 2013 and was on pace for nearly 1,500 rushing yards before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Florida State. He finished the season with 920 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. His reception yardage went down to just 77 for the season, however, and his kick return yardage was cut in half from the previous season. Johnson spent the spring rehabbing his injury, and is fully expected to be 100-percent when the Hurricanes open the season against Louisville.

What to expect: Johnson had one of the best single seasons in school history as a true freshman in 2012. He made an impact as a runner, as a pass-catcher, and in the return game. While his receiving and kick return impact was down as a sophomore, his rushing yards were on pace to improve tremendously. If he's able to bounce back to full strength this fall, the sky is the limit. He's added weight and strength and should be ready for a huge junior season. He will be expected to go well over 1,000 rushing yards this season. It remains to be seen what impact he'll have in the passing game but the starting quarterback will need to get him involved because he's such a weapon in that area. His role as a kick return specialist seems unclear right now. A lot will depend on how big a role guys like Joseph Yearby and Gus Edwards can play at RB. He averaged 16 touches per game as a freshman and over 20 as a sophomore. Expect that number to be somewhere in the middle this season. When healthy and used the right way he can be the team's best player, the league's best player, and one of the very elite running backs in all of college football.


Canes Time Top Stories