Weight: 202 pounds
Position Rank: 2
Drafted By: Cincinnati Bengals (2nd round, 37th overall)
40 Yard Dash: 4.53
Bench Press: 19
Vertical Jump: 33.5″
Broad Jump: 119″
Scouting Report/Player Notes
Bit of an injury history with Bernard, who came into Tar Heels camp in 2010 as one of the best backs in the entire country coming out of high school. Tore his ACL and was held out of the following Spring for precautionary reasons, but he came out in Fall practice of 2011 and earned a starting role, and never looked back. Bernard had a dominant RS Freshman season, where he ran for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns averaging over five yards per carry. He is also an exceptional receiver out of the backfield, and he caught 45 passes last year for 362 yards and a touchdown. Bernard has good speed to the edge and great quickness. His quick feet and agility in the open field allow him to make defenders miss. When he hits an open hole, he has excellent burst and is really shifty in the open field. Not really a tough inside runner and has a tendency to bounce plays to the outside instead of sticking to his assigned gap, but that is a result of his natural athletic ability simply training him to make something out of nothing. Has a lot of confidence in himself. Not a powerful back but makes quick decisions when he’s handed the ball. Threat to go the distance any time he touches the ball and had seven games last year when he went over 100 yards rushing. Pretty small back who appears at times to be easy to take down on initial contact. His elusiveness and ability to make players miss, as well as his uncanny ability to catch the ball out of the backfield give him the tools to be a future first round pick, be it in 2013 or 2014. Tons of talent, lots of speed and upside. Could turn into a LeSean McCoy type if he develops right.
Career Highlights (via North Carolina athletics site)
2012 First-Team All-ACC (ACSMA, Coaches, Phil Steele)
• 2012 ACC Player of the Year (CBSsports.com)
• 2012 Third-Team All-America (Associated Press, Phil Steele)
• 2011 First-Team All-ACC (ACSMA)
• 2011 First-Team Freshman All-America
• 2011 Brian Piccolo Award Winner
2012 – Sophomore Season
Earned first-team All-ACC honors for the second consecutive season and was the runner-up for ACC Player of the Year • Named third-team AP All-America at running back • Named one of 10 semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award • Finished just one vote behind Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd for ACC player of the year honors • Named ACC Player of the Year by CBSsports.com • Ranked first in the nation in punt return average, fourth in all-purpose yards, fifth in scoring and 11th in rushing • Scored 19 touchdowns in 10 games and had 33 touchdowns in 23 collegiate games • Scored 12 rushing touchdowns, five receiving and two by punt returns in just 10 games in 2012 • His 19 touchdowns in 2012 are the second-most in single-season school history, matching Voight (1976) and Kelvin Bryant (1981) • Finished just two touchdowns shy of Don McCauley’s single-season record of 21 set in 1970 • Scored 114 points, the second-highest single-season total in UNC history • McCauley (126 in 1970), Voight (110 in 1976), Kelvin Bryant (108 in 1981) and Leon Johnson (100 in 1993) are the only other Tar Heels with 100 points in a season • Rushed 184 times for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns • Also has 47 receptions for 490 yards and five touchdowns, and 16 punt returns for 263 yards and two touchdowns • Averaged 122.8 yards rushing per game and 6.7 yards per rush • Set a UNC single-season record with 198.1 all-purpose yards per game •Became the first Carolina player with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Natrone Means in 1991 (1,030) and 1992 (1,195) • Is the sixth Tar Heel with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons • In a four game stretch vs. Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke & NC State, 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 262 vs. Virginia Tech, 177 at Miami, 143 at Duke and 135 against NC State • Was named the AT&T All-America Player of the Week and the ACC Specialist of the Week after his performance vs. NC State •Was also one of the stars of the week for the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player) • Scored the winning touchdown with a 74-yard punt return with 13 seconds to play in the fourth quarter vs. NC State • Had sustained a sprained ankle earlier in the quarter and was not originally slated to return the punt • The punt return was featured by ESPN as its No. 1 Play of the Day • Became the sixth player at UNC to have two punt returns for touchdowns in a season (two of the previous five were on blocked punts), joining Johnny Branch (1930), Charlie Justice (1948), Norris Davis (1987, blocks), Andre Purvis (1993, both on blocks) and Bosley Allen (2000) • Finished the NC State game with 135 rushing yards on 23 carries and two rushing touchdowns. • Also had eight catches for a career-high 95 yards and led the Tar Heels in both rushing and receiving on the day • Had 230 yards from scrimmage and a career-best 304 all-purpose yards • Against the Wolfpack, Bernard had 89 yards rushing, a 19-yard reception and a 74-yard punt return in the fourth quarter for a total of 182 all-purpose yards in the final 15 minutes • Was the leading rusher at Duke with 24 carries for 143 yards and a touchdown • Also had five catches for 68 yards and scored on a 4-yard fumble recovery after a fourth quarter pass reception by Erik Highsmith • Returning to his home state, he rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns in an 18-14 win at Miami • Added four receptions for 36 yards and a punt return for 26 yards to post 239 all-purpose yards • Scored on a 10-yard run in the Tar Heels’ first drive of the game • Made a diving catch on 4th-and-6 in the second quarter and then scored on a 17-yard run on the next play from scrimmage • Gained 105 yards in the second half, including a 16-yard run on 3rd-and-7 late in the fourth quarter as the Tar Heels consumed nearly four minutes of time • Rushed for a career-high 262 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown in the win over Virginia Tech • Became the first Tar Heel to rush for 200+ yards in a game since Ronnie McGill rushed for 244 yards against Wake Forest in 2003 • The 262-yard mark is the fifth-highest in UNC single-game history and the most ever gained against Virginia Tech • His 11.4 yards per carry is the highest single-game mark in school history, surpassing Kelvin Bryant’s mark of 11.1 in 1981 vs. East Carolina • Scored a 62-yard touchdown on a 4th-and-inches carry on the first play of the second quarter against VT and broke a 51-yarder in the third quarter • In the first quarter against the Hokies, Bernard had three rushes for minus 3 yards – over the last three quarters he had 20 carries for 265 • In one stretch of eight carries from the second to third quarter Bernard rushed for 184 yards, a 23.3-yard average per carry • Finished the day with 10 carries for at least 10 yards on the day • Against Idaho, caught four passes for 50 yards and rushed twice for 70 yards • Both carries went for touchdowns, including a career long 68-yarder in the second quarter • Matched a career high with three touchdowns (one each rushing, receiving and punt return) and finished with 203 all-purpose yards in the win over Elon • Finished with 93 yards rushing on just nine carries and two receptions for 10 yards • Believed to be the only player in UNC history to score on a rush, reception and punt return in the same game • Scored on a 59-yard run in the first quarter, the second-longest scoring run of his career (60, 2011 vs. Rutgers) • Caught a 6-yard scoring pass later in the first before taking a punt return 70 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter • Did not play in the second half and finished with 100 total punt return yards in his first career game as a return man.
2011 – Redshirt Freshman Season
Joined Amos Lawrence (1977) as the only freshman tailbacks in Carolina history to earn first-team All-ACC • He is the first UNC freshman to earn first-team All-ACC honors since cornerback Dre’ Bly in 1996 • Also named the recipient of the 2011 Brian Piccolo Award, an honor given annually since 1972 in memory of the late Brian Piccolo to the “most courageous” football player in the ACC • Honored after recovering from a severe knee injury prior to his true freshman season • Rushed for a Carolina freshman record 1,253 yards • Tied for the ACC lead with 14 total touchdowns and led all ACC running backs with 13 rushing touchdowns • Became the first Tar Heel to rush for 1,000 yards since Jonathan Linton in 1997 • First UNC tailback to earn first-team All-ACC honors at UNC since Curtis Johnson in 1993 • An excellent receiver out of the backfield, he finished third on the squad with 45 receptions for 362 yards and a score • Ranked 28th in the country with 96.4 rushing yards per game • His seven 100-yard rushing games were a UNC freshman single-season record, breaking the previous mark of six set in 1977 by Lawrence • Limited to 31 yards on 13 carries in the Independence Bowl vs. Missouri • Also had six receptions for 36 yards against the Tigers • Following a mild concussion suffered at Virginia Tech, returned to the field in impressive fashion for the season finale against Duke, carrying the ball a season-high 30 times for a career-best 165 yards and a touchdown • Also caught four passes for 57 yards to finish the game with 222 yards from scrimmage • Scored his 12th rushing touchdown of the season on the first drive of the game at Virginia Tech before being lost for the night with the mild concussion • After being limited in practice due to a hip injury, had his 100-yard game streak snapped at Clemson after rushing just 11 times for 44 yards • Returned to full strength the following week and ran 27 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns • Also scored on a 7-yard catch-and-run, one of three receptions on the day • Went over 100 rushing yards for a fifth-straight game against Miami, the longest streak at Carolina since Ethan Horton did it in five consecutive games in 1984 • Also finished with season highs in receptions (9) and receiving yards (72) • Rushed for 109 yards and scored his eighth touchdown of the season against Louisville • 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 straight games since Natrone Means in 1992 • Ran 17 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the loss at Georgia Tech • Went over 200 all-purpose yards against the Yellow Jackets, finishing with 202 (155 rushing, 47 receiving) • Registered his first 100-yard rushing game with 102 yards on just 12 carries against Virginia • Also caught five passes for 31 yards against the Cavaliers • Started his career with nine carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against James Madison • Became the first freshman to rush for two scores in a game since 2007 • Added two more touchdowns and rushed for 81 yards against Rutgers.
2010 – Redshirt Season
Tore his ACL on the third day of fall practice and redshirted in 2010.
Video Highlights (via YouTube)