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Hurricanes’ standout running back overcome 2013 injury to regain top form
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Miami running back Duke Johnson has been named the recipient of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 2014 Brian Piccolo Award, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced Thursday.
The Piccolo Award has been given annually since 1970 in memory of the late Brian Piccolo to the "most courageous" football player in the ACC. Piccolo was the ACC Athlete of the Year in 1965 and played for the Chicago Bears before his career was cut short when he was stricken with cancer. His courageous fight against that disease was an inspiration to the Bears and the entire football community.
The 2014 Piccolo Award will be presented at the ACC’s Night of Legends event, which will be held Friday (5:30 p.m.) at the Charlotte Convention Center as part of the festivities held around the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game.
Johnson suffered a fractured fibula and a dislocated ankle in the fourth quarter of Miami’s game against Florida State in November of 2013. He underwent surgery two days later to repair his ankle, prematurely ending a stellar sophomore season in which he rushed for 920 yards in less than eight full games.
The 5-foot-9, 206-pound Miami native returned at full speed this fall, posting six consecutive games of 100 or more rushing yards during one stretch and ranking among the nation’s rushing leaders throughout the season. He finished the regular season ranked second among ACC rushers with 1,520 yards in 12 games and moved to the top of Miami’s all-time rushing list with 3,387 career yards.
“To come back from this type of injury is in and of itself a great accomplishment,” Miami head coach Al Golden said. “To come back bigger, faster, stronger and better is truly remarkable. We could not be more proud of Duke Johnson. The sacrifice and determination he exhibited during his nine month rehabilitation exemplifies why he is considered one of the game’s elite running backs and truly deserving of this award."
A semifinalist for the Doak Walker and Walter Camp Player of the Year Awards, Johnson was named the ACC Offensive Back of the Week on Oct. 27, after he rushed for a career-high 249 yards on 29 carries to lead the Hurricanes to a 30-6 victory over Virginia Tech on ESPN’s Thursday Night Football. Johnson became the first Miami running back since Willis McGahee in 2002 to surpass 200 yards rushing in a game, and just the fourth player in school history overall. Johnson’s 249 yards rushing were the second-most ever in a single game by a Hurricane.
Johnson becomes the fourth Miami student-athlete to receive the Brian Piccolo Award and the first since defensive end Shayon Green in 2012.
ACC Brian Piccolo Award Winners
1970 Paul Miller, QB, North Carolina
1971.... Jim Webster, LB, North Carolina
1972.... Mark Johnson, QB, Duke
1973.... Al Neville, QB, Maryland
1974.... David Visaggio, DG, Maryland
1975.... Scott Gardner, QB, Virginia
1976.... Jeff Green, DE, Duke
1977.... Ralph Stringer, DB, NC State
1978.... Rex Varn, DB, Clemson
1979.... not available
1980.... Jack Cain, DB,Clemson
1981.... Aaron Stewart, DB, Duke
1982.... Kenny Duckett, WR, Wake Forest
1983.... John Piedmonte, OLB,Wake Forest
1984.... J.D. Maarleveld, T, Maryland
1985.... Danny Burmeister, DB, N. Carolina
1986.... Ray Williams, WR, Clemson
1987.... no recipient
1988.... Jerry Mays, TB, Georgia Tech
1989.... Michael Anderson, RB, Maryland
1990.... Marc Mays, WR, Duke
1991.... Scott Adell, T, NC State
1992.... Dan Footman, DE, Florida State
............................ Randy Cuthbert, TB, Duke
1993.... Scott Youmans, DL, Duke
1994.... Chris Harrison, T, Virginia
1995.... Warren Forney, DT, Clemson
1996.... John Lewis, RB, Wake Forest
1997.... Sam Cowart, LB, Florida State
1998.... Anthony Poindexter, DB, Virginia
.................... Corey Simon, DT, Florida State
1999.... Chris Weinke, QB, Florida State
2000.... Ed Wilder, FB, Georgia Tech
2001.... Matt Crawford, T, Maryland
2002.... Anquan Boldin, WR, Florida State
2003.... Kevin Bailey, OL, Virginia
2004.... Frank Gore, RB, Miami
2005.... Ryan Best, S, Virginia
2006.... Glenn Sharpe, Miami
2007.... Matt Robinson, DE, Wake Forest
2008.... Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
2009.... Toney Baker, RB, NC State
2010.... Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College,
........... Nate Irving, LB, NC State
2011.... Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
2012.... Shayon Green, DE, Miami
........... Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State
2013.... Robert Godhigh, RB, Georgia Tech
2014.... Duke Johnson, RB, Miami