Miami Hurricanes Football: Will Duke Johnson Be Better Than Lamar Miller?

David MayerCorrespondent IJuly 2, 2012

Last season, Lamar Miller became the first Hurricane running back to gain over 1,000 yards (1,272 yards, to be exact) on the ground since Willis McGahee did it back in 2002.

As expected, Miller decided to forgo the remaining two years of eligibility and take his talent to the NFL, where he would get drafted in the fourth round by the Miami Dolphins.

The question now is who is going to offer the team that speed and athleticism that Miller did? 

Mike James and Eduardo Clements seem to be the most logical choices, as they already have experience at the college level. Neither is as quick or as athletic as incoming freshman Duke Johnson. Many truly believe that Johnson has a legitimate chance of breaking McGahee's all-time Hurricane rushing record of 1,753 yards in a season before he leaves Miami.

I wouldn't go that far, as the Hurricane's offensive line is not as talented as they were for McGahee, but I will say he could easily pass the rushing yards Miller obtained last season.

If you compare Miller and Johnson, you will notice they are similar in speed and quickness.  The only real difference between them is size. Miller is two inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than Johnson.

The weight may be a significant difference, but Johnson plays a lot stronger than Miller. It was Miller's lack of tackle-breaking ability that made teams hesitant to grab Miller earlier in the draft.

Where Johnson is concerned, there is something about watching his highlight tapes that really makes me believe he could have an amazing career at Miami.

His field vision is second-to-none, and his acceleration after stopping is simply amazing. If you need  proof, just check out his highlights from the Under Armour All-American game.

If I had to predict if Johnson is going to be better than Miller was, I would have to say yes—just not this year.

Like Miller did in his freshman season, Johnson will be sharing the ball with both Clements and James, getting used to the speed of the college game.

Johnson's second year will be a different story. Barring injury, I predict that he will gain at least 1,300 yards on the ground, if not 1,400.