University of Miami freshman sensation running back Duke Johnson was honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference on Tuesday, selected as the conference's Rookie of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA).
Johnson, a true freshman and graduate of Miami Norland High School, is the first Hurricane to win the honor since UM joined the ACC in the 2004 season. He won the conference's Rookie of the Week award 5 times during the 2012 season.
Johnson broke Clinton Portis' school freshman record by rushing for 947 yards on 139 carries, for an average of 6.8 yards per carry. Johnson led the Canes with 13 touchdowns, 10 on the ground, one receiving, and two on kickoff returns.
Johnson finished the year with 2,070 all-purpose yards, second-most in school history. Eight hundred and ninety-two of those yards came on kick returns, a school record. His 33.04-yard kick return average led the ACC and was fourth-best in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Johnson also led the nation with 11 plays of 50 yards or more for the season.
"It means a lot being the first in Miami history to win this award. It means so much to me and the team because I couldn't do it without my teammates," Johnson said. "And this is just another way to make my mom proud and show how I really appreciate the sacrifices she made for me when I was younger."
Johnson was named to the All-ACC second team on Monday (as both a running back and kick returner), the only Cane to nab All-ACC honors. He received 35 of 46 votes for the Rookie of the Year award. Johnson was also named the ACC's top offensive rookie, beating out the second-place finisher, Maryland WR Stephon Diggs, by a margin of 34 votes to 11.
Johnson's emergence was one of the brightest spots on the Canes' squad this season. He figures to be one of the team's top threats in 2013 as well.
Besides Johnson, Duke coach David Cutcliffe was named ACC Coach of the Year after leading the Blue Devils to their first bowl appearance since 1994. Florida State CB Ronald Darby won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.