|Phil Sears/Associated Press|
|Miami running back Duke Johnson suffered a broken ankle during a November loss to Florida State.|
Miami's Duke Johnson, the Hurricanes' best player and likely to be one of the nation's top six or seven running backs next season, appears as if he will miss spring practice as he recovers from a broken ankle.
Johnson (5-foot-9, 196 pounds), who will be a junior in the fall, suffered the injury in a Nov. 2 loss to Florida State. He still rushed for 920 yards, the fifth-highest total in the ACC, in eight games.
Johnson told the Miami Herald he didn't think he would be able to participate in spring practice and said he should be cleared to start working out in "two months, a month-and-a-half -- around that range."
His absence obviously will give more spring reps to backup tailbacks Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards, and that is a positive. At the same time, Miami will be breaking in a new quarterback with the departure of Stephen Morris; the new starter likely will be Ryan Williams, a senior-to-be who is a former starter at Memphis. Not having Johnson work with the new quarterback obviously is a negative.
Johnson has rushed for 1,867 yards and 16 TDs in two seasons. Johnson has excellent speed and possesses a great burst; he seems equally at home trying to turn the corner as he does running between the tackles. He also showed big-time skills as a kick returner and was a solid receiver as a true freshman in 2012, but he barely was used as a receiver in 2013 and his timing with Williams on screen passes will be important in the fall.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.