*Giovani Bernard          North Carolina        A very productive little man who can do multiple things, Bernard is a good athlete and football player. Yet, I question his overall speed for the running back position. A short-stepper with limited gait, he is run down in space too often; shows better speed in open space as a receiver and return man. Very good feet to skip and skate, with vision to backside and short-area burst; low center of gravity to drop weight, cut and restart. A pick and slide runner with strong base and gear change, plus lateral burst and acceleration. Is not a between-the-tackles runner; best when used in power, stretch looks to bounce a high percentage of carries. Good elusiveness to string multiple moves in a single run. Bernard is a proven route runner and possesses natural receiving skills, to say nothing of soft hands to catch outside his frame on screens, outs and checkdown routes. Good nose for the goal line, with diving effort. Very good punt return skills to make the first man miss, and surveys the field on the move with vision; weaves his way through traffic with very good production. This player is competitive and tough despite lackluster size. I would like to see him finish off plays instead of running out of bounds too often. Concerning to a few teams: a 2010 ACL tear and injury history at large. Softli – Second-round talent.

 

GIOVANI GOVAN BERNARD

Tailback

University of North Carolina Tar Heels

#26

5:09.4-206

Boca Raton, Florida

St. Thomas Aquinas High School

 

OVERVIEW

The cat-quick ball carrier produced a pair of banner seasons for the Tar Heels before deciding to test his skills at the National Football League level. Having seen his college debut delayed a season after he suffered a right knee anterior cruciate ligament tear during the third day of 2010 fall practices. He would return the following year to record the third-best rushing performance in school history, gaining 1,253 yards.

 

Bernard would come close to repeating that effort in 2012, totaling 1,228 yards on the ground, recording the seventh-best rushing campaign by a Tar Heel in a season. To the surprise of many, he decided to leave school after just two years playing for North Carolina and entered his name into the 2013 NFL Draft pool. Even though he appeared in only 23 games at UNC, he ranks tenth in school history with 2,481 yards on the ground, tying for eighth on the all-time chart with 25 touchdown runs.

 

The tailback also established a new school career-record, as his rushing average of 5.87 yards per carry broke the previous Tar Heels mark of 5.66 yards per attempt by Curtis Johnson (353 carries for 1,999 yards; 1992-94). His yards-per-carry average placed eleventh among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision performers, while his average of 107.87 yards per game on the ground led all active performers and his average of 156.35 all-purpose yards per game is topped by only UCLA’s Marqise Lee (165.76 ypc) among those still playing at the collegiate level.

 

Regarded as one of the elite draft prospects at his position, the underclassman displays great balance and runs at a low pad level, using his strong leg drive to consistently break tackles. He is a load to bring down by isolated defenders and while he might not be a classic speed burner in the LaMichael James (San Francisco) mold, he has more than enough acceleration and burst to slip past second level defenders for a big gain.

 

Bernard is a patient ball carrier who follows his blockers well, doing a nice job of maintaining a low pad level while keeping his legs churning and body leaning forward to stretch out the ball for extra yardage after absorbing first contact. If give a crease, he is very alert to the cutback lanes and is always looking for that opportune time to bounce it outside for big play.

 

The son of Haitian immigrants, who own a dry cleaner’s in Boca Raton, Florida, Bernard’s mother, Jossette, died of cancer in 1999, when Gio was seven-years-old. His would grow up following in the footsteps of his older brother, Yvenson, who was an All-Pac 10 Conference tailback at Oregon State, where he is the only player in school history to rank on OSU’s season Top Ten rushing list three times. Signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Rams in 2008, Yvenson last played professionally in the Canadian Football League for Saskatchewan in 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bernard began playing organized football at Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where he was rated the second-best running back prospect in the state by the Orlando Sun-Sentinel. Rivals.com rated him the 12th-best running back in the country while selecting him to their Florida Top 100 squad (placed 31st overall). Scout.com rated him as the nation’s 13th-best tailback and ESPN.com ranked him 16th.

 

A member of the Rivals250 and Scout300 teams, Bernard helped guide the Raiders to consecutive Class 5A state titles as a sophomore and junior, as he totaled 698 yards with seven scores on 105 carries (6.6 ypc) in 2007, followed by 1,528 yards on 160 tries (9.6 ypc) that included eighteen scores in 2008. As a senior, St. Thomas was 13-1 and finished thirteenth in the final USA Today national poll.

 

Bernard initially committed to Notre Dame but a coaching change altered his plans. He later enrolled at the University of North Carolina, but a right knee injury in fall camp would force him to the sidelines for his first season with the Tar Heels. The 2011 Brian Piccolo Award winner (given to the most courageous player in the Atlantic Coast Conference), he proved to be a hard-working, dedicated player throughout his rehabilitation process and the staff praised his excellent football character.

 

On the gridiron, Bernard set a school freshman season rushing record with 1,253 yards, the third-highest season total by any Tar Heel. His 239 carries rank sixth and his thirteen touchdown runs tied for fifth on the UNC annual record charts. He joined Amos Lawrence (1977) as the only freshman tailbacks in school annals to earn first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors and he also became the team’s first freshman to make the All-ACC first-team since cornerback Dre’ Bly in 1996.

 

Bernard’s rushing totals also marked the first time a North Carolina player reached the 1,000-yard rushing level since Jonathan Linton in 1997. He also proved to be a great receiver out of the backfield, finishing third on the squad with 45 receptions for 362 yards (8.04 ypc) and a score in 2011. His average of 96.38 yards per game rushing was third-best in the conference, while his average of 124.23 all-purpose yards per game placed fifth in the league.

 

In 2012, Bernard entered the season with questions about how he would fit in new coach Larry Fedora’s spread offense. But, he became the first UNC player since Natrone Means (1990-91) to produce consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, as his 1,228 yards rank seventh on the school season-record list. He accounted for that total on only 184 attempts, making his average of 6.67 yards per carry the third-highest season mark by a Tar Heel. He again ranked third on the squad with 47 receptions for 490 yards (10.43 ypc), finding the end zone five times with those grabs.

 

Bernard’s 1,981 all-purpose yards, 114 points scored, total of nineteen touchdowns, 16.44-yard average as a punt returner in 2012 all rank second on the school season-record list. He missed two early season games after injuring his left knee during an explosive season opener performance (100 yards and a score on two punt returns and 93 yards with a touchdown on nine carries in the first half vs. Elon) that would sideline him for the next two contests.

The tailback led the ACC and ranked 11th in the nation, as the All-American averaged 122.8 yards per game rushing. He also led the league while ranking second in the FBS with a 16.44-yard punt return average and paced the conference while placing fourth nationally with an average of 198.10 all-purpose yards per game. Even though the Tar Heels compiled an impressive 8-4 record, they were not eligible for postseason competition.

 

 

Perhaps due to the school not appearing in a bowl games, Bernard took the opportunity on December 14th, 2012, to announce that he was leaving the university and entering the 2013 NFL Draft as a third-year sophomore eligible. “I didn’t want to base my projections or where I was (in mock drafts),” Bernard said during a news conference. “I think it was more so that I wanted to move on to the next step in life and fulfill a dream.”

 

The Boca Raton, Florida native was draft-eligible because he has been out of high school for three seasons. While he sat out the 2010 season with a knee injury and also missed almost three full games this year with another knee injury, but said fear of another injury wasn’t a major factor in his decision.

 

“It didn’t really weigh that much,” Bernard said. “As a football player, you take risks. Playing the game is a risk in itself. Those things happen. You don’t really have control of those things. … Those are things that you can’t really think about it. You just have to go into it with an open mind and just play the game.”

 

“We’ve always prided ourselves on being balanced,” North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said. “I just knew that I was excited about the opportunity of having a player of his caliber. At the time, I really didn’t know how good Gio was because I hadn’t seen him on film. I don’t like to make decisions on guys when they’re in shorts. But in the first two days of spring ball, we were in shorts and I knew right then how special he was and what he was going to be in the offense.”

 

“I don’t want to say it’s not about money because it’s a business and he’s going to be making a living and that plays a part in it,” Fedora said. “But I think for him, it’s more about fulfilling a dream. … I dreamed about it as a kid. I didn’t go very far, but he has this opportunity and I’m ready to live through him in this opportunity.”

 

Bernard said he planned to come back to the University of North Carolina to earn his degree during the Spring 2014 semester. Most talent evaluators regard him as one of the best running backs in the 2013 draft class. The Tar Heels have not seen one of its running backs selected in the first two rounds since Natrone Means in 1993 NFL Draft.

 

CAREER NOTES

Bernard started 21-of-23 games at the University of North Carolina, carrying the ball 423 times for 2,481 yards (5.87 ypc) and 25 touchdowns, adding 852 yards with six scores on 92 receptions (9.26 ypc)…Scored 198 points and returned sixteen punts for 263 yards (16.44 avg) that included two more touchdowns…Also had one assisted tackle, as he touched the ball 531 times for 3,596 all-purpose yards, an average of 156.35 yards per game and 6.77 yards per play…Became the first UNC player since Natrone Means (1990-91) to produce consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons…Among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision performers, Bernard’s average of 107.87 yards per game rushing lead that group, while his average of 156.35 all-purpose yards placed second, 5.87 catches per game finished 11th, two punt returns for touchdowns tied for fourth and his 16.44-yard punt return average was best…His 2,481 yards rushing rank second among active Atlantic Coast Conference players (Andre Ellington of Clemson has 3,436), as his twelve 100-yard rushing performances tied Ellington for the lead among active ACC participants…His 2,481 yards on the ground is tenth on the UNC career-record chart, as his 25 touchdowns rushing tied Ryan Houston (2007-11) for eighth in school annals…Bernard’s 33 total touch-downs is the seventh-highest total by a Tar Heel in a career…His 198 points scored is good for 14th in UNC history…His average of 5.87 yards per rushing attempt established a school all-time record, breaking the previous mark of 5.66 yards per attempt by Curtis Johnson (353 for 1,999; 1992-94)…Ranks 11th in Tar Heels annals with his 3,596 all-purpose yards.

 

 

2012 SEASON

Bernard earned second-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report and CBS Sports, adding third-team accolades from Phil Steele, Lindy’s and the Associated Press, along with honorable mention from Sports Illustrated…The All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team choice finished second in the voting for both ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year Awards, given by the league’s coaches, but did go home with ACC Player of the Year recognition from CBS Sports…One of ten semi-finalists for the coveted Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back…Helped the Tar Heels improve from 76th in the nation (138.85 ypg) in 2011 to 33rd nationally (193.83 ypg) rushing, as Bernard led the league and finished 11th in the NCAA ranks with an average of 122.890 yards per game on the ground…Led the conference and ranked second nationally with sixteen punt returns for 263 yards (16.44 avg) and two touchdowns…His punt return average rank second on the UNC season-record chart behind Charlie Justice (17.47-yard average on 19 attempts for 332 yards in 1948)…Paced the conference and ranked fifth in the FBS ranks with an average of 11.40 points scored per game, as his total of 114 points placed second on the school annual record charts, topped by Don McCauley (126 in 1970)…Led the ACC and was fourth in the nation with an average of 198.10 all-purpose yards per game, as his 1,981 yards is the second-best season total at UNC behind Don McCauley’s 1970 mark of 2,021 yards…His all-purpose average surpassed the previous ACC season-record of 191.4 yards by C.J. Spiller of Clemson in 2009…Bernard started all ten games he played in, as a left knee sprain suffered during the first half of the season opener vs. Elon College sidelined him for the next two contests vs. Wake Forest and Louisville…Carried 184 times for 1,228 yards, the seventh-best season total by a UNC player, as he also became the first Tar Heel since Natrone Means (1990-91) to produce consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons…His average of 6.67 yards per carry is the third-best mark in a season by a UNC player, topped by Charlie Justice (7.20-yard average on 131 carries for 943 yards in 1946) and Kelvin Bryant (6.68 avg; 152 for 1,015; 1981)…His twelve rushing touchdowns rank seventh on the school annual record list, while his nineteen total scores is second, topped by Don McCauley’s 21 in 1970…Also finished third on the team with 47 receptions for 490 yards (10.43 ypc) and five touchdowns, including a 78-yarder vs. Georgia Tech that ranks as the 11th-longest pass catch in UNC history…The tailback produced five 100-yard rushing performances that included a four-game stretch (vs. Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke & North Carolina State) where Bernard had 729 yards rushing (182.3 avg.), 1,105 all-purpose yards and scored eight touchdowns…Rushed for at least 135 yards in each of those four games, including a career-high 262 on 23 attempts with a 62-yard score, three catches for 10 yards and 19 yards on three punt returns vs. Virginia Tech…Added 177 yards with two scores on 27 attempts while pulling in four throws for 36 yards and returning a punt 26 yards at Miami…Carried 24 times for 143 yards and a touch-down, scoring again on five grabs for 66 yards at Duke…Totaled 135 yards on 23 rushes that included two touchdowns, 95 yards on eight receptions and found the end zone with a 74-yard punt return vs. North Carolina State to earn AT&T All-America Player of the Week, ACC Specialist of the Week and Paul Hornung Award Nsational Player of the Week honors…Exploded for a 68-yard scoring scamper and ran for a 2-yard touchdown in the Idaho contest…Before leaving the Elon College game with a left knee injury in the first half, he ran nine times for 93 yards and a 59-yard touchdown, scoring again on a pair of catches for 10 yards and yet again on a 70-yard punt return…Closed out his career with 163 yards and a touchdown on 27 attempts, 12 yards on a punt return and 32 yards on five receptions vs. Maryland.

 

2011 SEASON

Bernard earned Freshman All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report, as the All-ACC first-team choice was the recipient of the Brian Piccolo Award, given to the football player in the conference that displays the most courage…Joined Amos Lawrence (1977) as the only freshman tailbacks in Carolina history to earn first-team All-ACC accolades and he is the first UNC freshman to earn first-team conference honors since cornerback Dre Bly in 1996…Appeared in thirteen games, starting all but the Wake Forest and Clemson contests, as he went on to set a school freshman record with 1,253 yards rushing, which also rank third on the UNC overall annual record chart behind Don McCauley (1,720 in 1970) and Mike Voight (1,407 in 1976)…His 239 rushing attempts are the sixth-highest season total by a Tar Heel, as he averaged 5.24 yards per carry…Scored thirteen times on the ground, tying Natrone Means (1992) for fifth on the UNC annual record list…Finished third in the ACC with an average of 96.38 yards rushing, also ranking fifth with an average of 124.23 all-purpose yards per game…Scored 84 points and piled up 1,615 all-purpose yards, which rank sixth on the Tar Heels season-record list…His fourteen total touchdowns also placed sixth on the UNC annual chart…Finished third on the team with 45 receptions for 362 yards (8.04 ypc) and a touchdown…His seven 100-yard rushing performances were a UNC freshman single-season record, breaking the previous mark of six set by Amos Lawrence in 1977…Started his career with nine carries for 64 yards and became the first freshman to rush for two scores in a game since 2007, in the season opener vs. James Madison…Had  two more touchdowns, including a 60-yarder and rushed for 81 yards on 16 tries vs. Rutgers…Registered his first 100-yard rushing game with 102 yards on just 12 carries vs. Virginia, as he also caught five passes for 31 yards vs. the Cavaliers…Ran 17 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns with a long of 55 vs. Georgia Tech, as he generated 205 all-purpose yards vs. the Yellow Jackets, finishing 47 more on five grabs…Made it three straight games with at least 100 rushing yards at East Carolina to become the first UNC player to rush for 100 yards in three consecutive contest since Natrone Means in 1992, as Bernard rushed 24 times for 146 yards and a score…Had his fourth 100-yard running effort the next week vs. Louisville, amassing 109 yards on 25 attempts with a touchdown…Made nine catches for 72 yards and posted his fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing game, behind 110 yards on 27 tries with a score vs. Miami…Limited vs. Clemson after suffering a hip strain in practice leading up to the Tar Heels meeting the Tigers…Had his sixth 100-yard rushing show in seven games, running 27 times for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. Wake Forest…Generated 165 yards on 30 carries, finding the end zone once, along with snaring four balls for 36 yards vs. Duke…Limited to 31 yards on 13 carries in the Independence Bowl vs. Missouri, but also had six receptions for 36 yards vs. the Tigers.

 

2010 SEASON

Bernard’s season came to an end before it ever began, as the true freshman received a medical hardship after he suffered a right knee anterior cruciate ligament tear during the team’s third practice for fall camp.

 

INJURY REPORT

2010 Season…Tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during fall camp and underwent surgery, missing the entire season after he was granted a medical hardship.

2011 Season…Bernard was limited vs. Clemson (10/22) when he suffered a hip strain early in the contest…Left the Virginia Tech game (11/17) after he suffered a slight concussion.

2012 Season…Left the season opener vs. Elon (9/01) with a left knee sprain in the first half and the injury would sideline the ball carrier for the next two contests vs. Wake Forest (9/08) and Louisville (9/15).

 

AGILITY TESTS

4.48 in the 40-yard dash…1.58 10-yard dash…2.52 20-yard dash…4.22 20-yard shuttle…

7.03 three-cone drill…33-inch vertical jump…9’6” broad jump…Bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times…32-inch arm length…9-inch hands…75 ¾-inch wingspan.

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Bernard attended St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) High School, playing football for head coach George Smith…Rated the second-best running back prospect in the state by the Orlando Sun-Sentinel…Rivals.com rated him the 12th-best running back in the country while naming him to their Florida Top 100 squad (placed 31st overall)…Scout.com rated him as the nation’s 13th-best tailback and ESPN.com ranked him 16th…A member of the Rivals250 and Scout300 teams, Bernard helped guide the Raiders to consecutive Class 5A state titles as a sophomore and junior, as he totaled 698 yards with seven scores on 105 carries (6.6 ypc) in 2007, followed by 1,528 yards on 160 tries (9.6 ypc) that included eighteen scores in 2008…As a senior, St. Thomas was 13-1 and finished thirteenth in the final USA Today national poll.

 

PERSONAL

Exercise and Sport Science major…Son of Yvens and the late Josette Bernard…Older brother, Yvenson, was an All-Pac 10 Conference tailback at Oregon State in 2006 and played for OSU from 2004-07. He is the only player in Beavers history to rank on their Top Ten season-record rushing list three times and is currently third in school annals with 3,862 yards on the ground, second with 876 carries and fourth with 38 rushing touch-downs. He was signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Rams in 2008 before being picked up via waivers by Seattle. He later played in the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2009-10), Montreal Alouettes (2011) and Saskatchewan Rough-riders (2011)…Born Giovani Govan Bernard on 11/22/91…Resides in Davie, Florida.

 

PLAYER STATISTICS

RUSHING STATISTICS
STATS GP GS NO YARDS AVG TD LONG GM/AVG
2011 13 11  239    1253  5.24  13    60    096.38
2012 10 10  184    1228  6.67  12    68    122.80
TOTAL 23 21  423    2481  5.87  25    68    107.87

 

RECEIVING STATISTICS PUNT RETURNS
STATS NO YARDS AVG TD LONG NO YARDS AVG TD LONG
2011  45      362 08.04  01    23  00      000 00.00  00    00
2012  47      490 10.43  05    78  16      263 16.44  02    74
TOTAL  92      852 09.26  06    78  16      263 16.44  02    74

 

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS
STATS TK SO AS FR FC
2011   00   00   00  00  00
2012   01   00   01  00  00
TOTAL   01   00   01  00  00

 

ALL-PURPOSE YARDAGE
STATS GM PLAYS CATCH RUSH K/RET P/RET YARDS TDR P/AVG GM/AVG
2011 13     284    1253    362    000    000    1615   14   5.69    124.23
2012 10     247    1228    490    000    263    1981   19   8.02    198.10
TOTAL 23     531    2481    852    000    263    3596   33   6.77    156.35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BERNARD GAME BY GAME LOG

2012 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Rushing

Receiving

Punt Ret.

Pts

Tackles

No

Gain

Loss

Net

TDs

No

Yds

TD

No

Yds

TD

TTL
TDs

Ast

Solo

Asst
Loss

Solo
Loss

Loss
Yds

Elon 09/01/12 Elon 62-0

Yes

9

94

1

93

1

2

10

1

2

100

1

3

18

0

0

0

0

0

Wake Forest 09/08/12 at WFU 27-28

No

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Louisville 09/15/12 at Louisville 34-39

No

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

East Carolina 09/22/12 ECU 27-6

Yes

18

59

9

50

1

6

52

1

0

0

0

2

12

0

0

0

0

0

Idaho 09/29/12 Idaho 66-0

Yes

2

70

0

70

2

4

50

0

4

30

0

2

12

0

0

0

0

0

Virginia Tech 10/06/12 Virginia Tech 48-34

Yes

23

267

5

262

1

3

10

0

3

19

0

1

6

0

0

0

0

0

Miami (FL) 10/13/12 at Miami 18-14

Yes

27

189

12

177

2

4

36

0

1

26

0

2

12

0

0

0

0

0

Duke 10/20/12 at Duke 30-33

Yes

24

143

0

143

1

5

66

1

0

0

0

2

12

0

0

0

0

0

North Carolina St. 10/27/12 NCSU 43-35

Yes

23

139

4

135

2

8

95

0

2

74

1

3

18

0

0

0

0

0

Georgia Tech 11/10/12 Georgia Tech 50-68

Yes

16

79

1

78

1

6

92

1

2

2

0

2

12

1

0

0

0

0

Virginia 11/15/12 at Virginia 37-13

Yes

15

62

5

57

0

4

47

1

1

0

0

1

6

0

0

0

0

0

Maryland 11/24/12 Maryland 45-38

Yes

27

168

5

163

1

5

32

0

1

12

0

1

6

0

0

0

0

0

Season Totals

184

1270

42

1228

12

47

490

5

16

263

2

19

114

1

0

0

0

0

 

2011 Season

Date

Opponent

Score

Played

Rushing

Receiving

Pts

No

Gain

Loss

Net

TDs

No

Yds

TD

TTL
TDs

James Madison 09/03/11 James Madison 42-10

Yes

9

65

1

64

2

2

8

0

2

12

Rutgers 09/10/11 Rutgers 24-22

Yes

16

93

12

81

2

4

22

0

2

12

Virginia 09/17/11 Virginia 28-17

Yes

12

103

1

102

0

5

31

0

0

0

Georgia Tech 09/24/11 at Georgia Tech 28-35

Yes

17

158

3

155

2

5

47

0

2

12

East Carolina 10/01/11 at East Carolina 35-20

Yes

24

149

3

146

1

0

0

0

1

6

Louisville 10/08/11 Louisville 14-7

Yes

25

116

7

109

1

3

14

0

1

6

Miami (FL) 10/15/11 Miami (FL) 24-30

Yes

27

114

4

110

1

9

72

0

1

6

Clemson 10/22/11 at Clemson 38-59

Yes

11

47

3

44

0

2

28

0

0

0

Wake Forest 10/29/11 Wake Forest 49-24

Yes

27

163

9

154

2

3

21

1

3

18

North Carolina St. 11/05/11 at North Carolina St. 0-13

Yes

18

57

10

47

0

2

26

0

0

0

Virginia Tech 11/17/11 at Virginia Tech 21-24

Yes

10

47

2

45

1

0

0

0

1

6

Duke 11/26/11 Duke 37-21

Yes

30

173

8

165

1

4

57

0

1

6

Missouri 12/26/11 Missouri 24-41

Yes

13

39

8

31

0

6

36

0

0

0

Season Totals

239

1324

71

1253

13

45

362

1

14

84

 

Data provided by Dave-Te Thomas, Publisher of The NFL Draft Reports for TonySoftli.com; Tony Softli Draft Board