Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 12/13/11

If you have been reading around the internet you will have seen that the accolades for redshirt freshman tailback Giovani Bernard have been coming in. First he was put on the first team All-ACC, now he has been slated on the Yahoo! Sports Freshman All-America Team as well as the CBSSports.com Freshman All-America Team. All well deserved for the first running back to break 1,000 yards at North Carolina since 1997, finishing up with 1,222 and 13 touchdowns, which led all back in the conference. Bernard led all the freshmen backs with 101.8 yards per game, while being the third best in the confernce and the twenty-third in NCAA. And all of this, as you can see, he did in his first year playing at UNC, which leads me to ask two questions about the young man: with a new system coming into play under head coach Larry Fedora will the running back have the same type of season in 2012? And if he does, or gets even better and stays for his junior and senior year could we hear his name when speaking about the Heisman.

Bernard will have four out of five returning line men in front of him next year, while the best wide out, Dwight Jones, will be playing on Sundays and not for the Heels. This leads me to believe that coach Fedora might rely on his tail back to open up the offense as the running game is a proven commidity right now on Chapel Hill. If that is the case, and quarterback Bryn Renner can also find his targets, it would make sense that the yardage that Bernard got this season could easily be surpassed. And while the coaches talk about one game at a time let me be so bold as to say and “what if” the tailback’s back third season on the field was even better than the first two? Could we hear his name when the so-called analysts talk about the Heisman candidates? Can North Carolina go from RB U in the 80′s and 90′s, to a 14 year draught of having one, to then having him flirt with the biggest individual accolade in college football?

I would say for now that thought is still far fetched, but it’s sometimes fun to imagine things like that for players that no one had on the radar before the season began. On the other hand, it is not too far fetched to see Giovani Bernard’s stock rise in the NFL Draft if he keeps playing the way he has this season. I know the team will have a new coaching staff, the top wide out is gone and that the defense might be weaker than this season, but with the best back at the school in a while a new high powered offense, the future might be bright at Chapel Hill for both individuals and the team as a whole.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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