A star running back from the University of North Carolina, Giovani Bernard was the top playmaker on the UNC offense.
We talked with Doc Kennedy of the Tar Heel Blog, a North Carolina Tar Heels community on SB Nation, about the two-time first-team All-ACC selection.
Tale of the Tape
Height- 5’ 10”
Weight- 205 pounds
Class- RS Sophomore
Can you give some background info on him and a quick overview of his career?
Bernard was a star coming out of high school in Miami. He injured his knee during preseason practice his freshman year at Carolina but quickly lived up to his billing as he became the first UNC running back in 14 years to rush for over 1,000 yards in 2011. He followed that up with a 2012 season that saw him lead the nation in punt returns while leading the ACC in rushing, return yards, and all purpose yards. He ran for over 1,200 yards this season in only 9 1/2 games, as he was injured in the first half of the season opener and missed the next two games. He was first-team All-ACC both seasons.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
He is a multi-faceted player who can run, catch, and do it all. He has a knack for finding holes and squirting through for positive yardage. He is also a great pass receiver, with 92 catches in his two years at Carolina. He scored touchdowns this season rushing, receiving, and twice in kick returns. His main drawback is that he is on the small side (5-10, 205). Plus, while he is quick, especially laterally, he does not have breakaway speed. He reads his blocks exceptionally well and that is what gets him into open space.
He is one of the few RS sophomores coming out this year. Do you know why he is leaving after only two seasons and do you think he is ready for the NFL?
It may just be a matter of striking while the iron is hot. There is really nothing else he can accomplish at UNC and his stock may never be higher than it is right now. He is as ready for the NFL as he will ever be.
Do you see him as a running back that can handle 20+ carries a game in the NFL?
Not really, but I’m not sure that’s where NFL teams will be looking at him, given his abilities in the return game. He would certainly have to bulk up to endure that level of capacity in the NFL.
Where would you rank him among top running backs in UNC history?
Many people don’t know that for many years North Carolina led the nation in the number of 1,000-yard backs. If he had stayed for a 3rd year and put up the same kind of numbers he did in his first two years, he would probably be on the Mt. Rushmore of UNC running backs. As it is, he is 10th on the all-time rushing list in just two years and will always have a special place in the heart of Tar Heel fans because of the punt return TD against NC State that ended a five-year losing streak to a hated rival.
You can follow Doc on Twitter @DocHeelfire and the blog @TarHeelBlog.