MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Hurricanes running back Duke Johnson is special. The team learned this from one play in Saturday’s victory at Boston College, his first ever at the collegiate level.
It wasn’t the freshman’s 54-yard behemoth run in the second quarter, nor the 56-yard tear that left the defense weeping in the third. While those two juicy touchdowns will be highlighted as the kickoff to a fantastic career, the moment occurred earlier.
Miami trailed 14-0 with just over two minutes left in a nightmare of a first quarter. The situation was fourth and a foot on the Boston College 20-yard line. Stephen Morris lined up in shotgun, three wide, with Johnson as the lone back to his right.
With a designed quarterback option to the right, Duke received the pitch outside with three defenders in nearby pursuit. At this moment you can toss away Duke’s 4.4 speed and inexplicable vision. This play would be a matter of want.
He put his head down and churned everything his 5’9″ 185-pound frame had. Thanks to the genius of DVR, we are able see the violent moment of initial impact between the two defenders and Johnson occurring just short of the first down.
Placing physics on hold, he absorbed the blow and propelled his body forward for the first down. There was zero hesitation on a play he knew he’d receive a blow. He simply wanted it more.
While the two runs combining for 110 yards and two touchdowns showed us his physical prowess, we learned about Duke’s mental makeup on that fourth down.
The kid is a warrior.
After compiling 135 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns in his first game, Duke then showed tremendous humility after the game. After all, it was just one game.
“You have older guys in Mike James and Eduardo Clements,” Duke said. “This is their backfield. I’m just coming in and doing my role”.
This is the type of football player who doesn’t come around often. The game is so natural for him it’s frightening. Nothing is forced. Like LeBron James on the court, Duke appears to see the play unfold in his mind before it happens.
Freshman or not, this offense is thirsting for playmakers. It’s going to be difficult for offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to keep his shiny new toy off the field.
“I understand when you can break two runs of plus-50 yards, all of a sudden your numbers get skewed,” said Fisch of his new thoroughbred. “You’re averaging 19 yards a carry and thats okay. We’ll take that all day long.”