Has there ever been a Canes running back bigger than D.J. Johnson?
Maybe not. Unless Ted Hendricks, who came to UM as a tight end, got a spare carry or two.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive end signee, may get a shot at running back according to Canesport. The Hurricanes, looking to solve their depth issues in the backfield, could give the Sacramento native a two-way tryout.
Mark Richt was “still looking for a running back in general and for short yardage [and] asked if I would be interested in playing it,” said Johnson, who is set to arrive at UM in July. Johnson thinks defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski “might not be that happy, but it’s what is best for team. They’ll try me out at running back and see how it goes.”
Kuligowski would still get to work with Johnson, who had more scholarship offers — 100 — than any recruit nationally. Despite his large frame, Johnson has run the 100-meter dash as low as 11.22 seconds this season and has a PR of 23.79 in the 200. He is the highest-rated recruit in Miami’s 2017 signing class.
Defensive end is perhaps the deepest position on Miami’s roster. In the spring, early arrival Jon Garvin made an impression on coaches behind established veterans Chad Thomas, Demetrius Jackson, Trent Harris and last year’s freshman standout, Joe Jackson.
Johnson’s future appears to be on defense, but perhaps he could be another Brandon Jacobs. The former New York Giants running back, who was 6-foot-4-and-change and 265 pounds, had a strong nine-year career and twice rushed for 1,000 yards.
His potential road recalls that of another top recruit from Northern California: former Miami linebacker D.J. Williams (6-2, 245), who played fullback at UM as a freshman.
If Johnson became a star ballcarrier, it would make him unique in Hurricanes history.
All but one of the top 25 players on Miami’s career rushing list range from 5-8 (Leonard Conley) and 5-9 (Duke Johnson, Frank Gore, Tyrone Moss, Joe Yearby) to 6-2 (Ottis Anderson, Chuck Foreman, Vince Opalsky).
Eddie Dunn, currently No. 16, held UM’s rushing record (1,778) from 1938 until Anderson smashed it nearly four decades later (3,331 yards from 1975-78).
He was listed at 6-3 and 192 pounds; UM’s “Ibis” yearbook from 1938 described him as “rather elongated.”
Check out Johnson in action: