This was the news that most of us expected.
A day after losing the Duck Commander Independence Bowl against South Carolina, star running back Duke Johnson has declared for the NFL Draft.
Miami RB Duke Johnson will enter NFL draft. pic.twitter.com/kqDV0GkXPR— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 28, 2014
Miami's all-time leading rusher Duke Johnson announces that he is going pro. pic.twitter.com/wHoMB8qt5M— Hurricanes Football (@CanesFootball) December 28, 2014
Johnson's impact on the field has been palpable. He is the record holder for All-Purpose yardage and Rushing yardage in Miami Hurricanes History. Johnson has returned kicks and punts, and been the foundation of the running game. His varied skillset made him a dangerous weapon and, by the numbers, the best running back in Canes Football history.
It should come as no surprise that Duke Johnson is heading to the NFL. He's accomplished as much as any individual has in the history of the Miami Hurricanes program, and is more than ready for the next step in his football career.
Full Release Courtesy UM:
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami running back Duke Johnson announced Sunday his plans to forego his final year of college eligibility and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.
Johnson, the all-time leading rusher in Miami’s storied history at the position, totaled 1,652 rushing yards in his final season with the Hurricanes. The Miami Norland HS alum ends his college career with 3,519 rushing yards, 26 rushing touchdowns, and 5,523 all-purpose yards in just 33 games.
A 2014 All-ACC first-team selection by both the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) and ACC coaches, Johnson set a personal best with 2,070 all-purpose yards this season. Johnson ended his career with a 132-yard performance against South Carolina in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl – marking his 14th career 100-yard rushing game, tying him with Miami greats Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis for the most all-time.
"I think looking at the list and the guys I’ve passed is an accomplishment in and of itself," Johnson said. "I’m very grateful to have [had] an opportunity to return kicks, catch the ball out of the backfield and run the ball where I can get up above all these great UM players who came before me.
"The biggest thing with me is leaving something with my young guys, leaving something with my running backs – Joseph Yearby, Gus Edwards, Trayone Gray and Walter Tucker - to where they can see what it takes and what needs to be done to be great."
Johnson dominated in his final season with the Hurricanes, posting a stretch of six straight 100-yard games in the middle of the campaign. After missing the final five games of 2013 to a year-ending ankle injury, Johnson rebounded with one of the most dominant seasons by a running back in Miami history.
Johnson averaged 6.8 yards per carry on his 242 attempts in 2014, finishing with 10 rushing touchdowns. His 90-yard TD run against North Carolina tied the longest play from scrimmage in program history, his 249-yard performance against Virginia Tech tied him for the third-best single-game mark, while his 89 yards against Pittsburgh moved him past Ottis Anderson into first place in all-time rushing yards.
Johnson said the decision was a difficult one for him and his family.
"Of course there was back and forth. As a kid, I always wanted to come here. I loved it. I didn’t want to leave it," said Johnson, who will continue to work towards his degree by taking classes during the spring semester. "At the same time, like I mentioned before, the life for running backs [in the NFL] isn’t that high. I think it’s best to get out when I can."
Miami had three players selected in the 2014 NFL Draft: offensive guard Brandon Linder (Jacksonville Jaguars, third round), punter Pat O’Donnell (Chicago Bears, sixth round) and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (Buffalo Bills, seventh round).
More on this news and its impact in the coming days.