Duke Johnson to enter NFL draft

Miami running back Duke Johnson is entering the NFL draft, the junior announced Sunday.

The Hurricanes' all-time leading rusher with 3,519 yards, Johnson concluded his college career in Saturday's Duck Commander Independence Bowl, a 24-21 loss to South Carolina, by rushing for 132 yards on 24 carries, while adding 51 yards on five receptions.

The game marked Johnson's 14th career 100-yard rushing contest, tying him with Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis for the school record.

"I think looking at the list and the guys I've passed is an accomplishment in and of itself," Johnson said in a release. "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."

Johnson, who missed the last five games of last season with a broken right ankle, started every game for the 6-7 Hurricanes this year, finishing with 1,652 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. He was second on the team in catches, hauling in 38 receptions for 421 yards and three more scores.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. rates Johnson as the No. 5 draft-eligible running back. Scouts Inc. rates Johnson as its No. 5 running back as well.

"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 toward 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."