Hurricanes RB Johnson uncertain if he'll play senior year, declare for draft
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- When Miami plays its last home contest of the regular season on Saturday, tradition dictates that the seniors be honored in a pregame ceremony.
Duke Johnson won't be in that group.
Maybe he should be, just in case it's also his farewell.
Johnson said Monday that he and his mother have not made any decisions about his status for the 2015 NFL draft, though many around - and even within - the program are expecting that the running back will skip his senior season with the Hurricanes and turn pro.
''I don't think there's much more I need to prove on the field, if anything,'' Johnson said. ''Not saying there's not any room to get better. There's always room to get better in aspects of the game. But as far as, I guess, stats and things of that sort, there's not much more I need to prove.''
Johnson's mother has made it clear, many times, that she wants her son to get his degree from Miami regardless of his NFL plans. Leaving early would not preclude Johnson from satisfying that request; for the last several years, Miami has offered programs where athletes who leave early to pursue pro careers are welcomed back to the university to complete their undergraduate degree.
But the degree is Cassandra Prophet-Mitchell's top wish.
''That's the deal breaker,'' said Johnson, adding that his mother will get a ''60-40'' majority of their final vote when it's time to decide what happens next season.
Another potential roadblock might be Johnson's desire to spend another season with quarterback Brad Kaaya, who has had a recordsetting freshman year for Miami.
''The kid's coming along well,'' Johnson said. ''I'm anxious to see what he'll do.''
For his part, Kaaya doesn't seem to think he'll have Johnson to hand the ball to next season.
''Duke is a last-year guy,'' Kaaya said.
Johnson is 34 yards away from passing Ottis Anderson (3,331) for No. 1 on Miami's career rushing list, despite missing about half of the 2013 season because of a broken ankle.
He's already Miami's career leader in all-purpose yards, is tied for fifth in school history with 26 rushing touchdowns and his 1,431 yards so far in 2014 ranks him No. 2 all-time for a single-season rushing total by a Hurricane, 312 yards shy of Willis McGahee's mark of 1,753 in 2002.
''No question, he's had a terrific year,'' Miami coach Al Golden said.
Miami (6-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) plays host to Pittsburgh (5-6, 3-4) on Saturday.