UNC Football: Giovani Bernard Is Officially on Heisman Watch

Rollin YeattsFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 27:  Giovani Bernard #26 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drags Ricky Dowdy #34 and Dontae Johnson #25 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack for extra yardage during play at Kenan Stadium on October 27, 2012 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 43-35.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It's about time.

On the Sunday following his 304 all-purpose yard effort—that included a game-winning 74-yard punt return touchdown—I posted an article ranting about why North Carolina's Giovani Bernard should be on the Heisman list. Three days of canvassing social media later, Gio was on ESPN's Heisman Watch.

My anger has subsided. Bernard is finally receiving the national attention he deserves.

I'd like to think those of us on Twitter and Facebook had something to do with his stock rising, but all the real work was done by the Tar Heels' 5'10", 205-pound sophomore running back.

Even after missing two games this season (both were losses), Gio has still managed to rack up 1,498 all-purpose yards this year. He also missed part of the Idaho game, in which he carried the ball twice for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

He has proven to be unstoppable in every facet of his game—and easily the most electric player on the team, if not the country.

Bernard averages 7.4 yards per carry, producing 930 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. To go with that, he has 319 yards and three touchdowns receiving, plus 249 yards and two touchdowns returning punts on only 12 attempts.

The patience Giovani Bernard has is simply uncanny. I don't think I've seen a running back wait as long for something to open up than Gio.

When I first saw him play, that scared me.

I'd yell at the TV, "What are you doing?"

"Chill out, man. I'm just waiting for this hole to open up," I can now imagine him yelling back. Then he'd burst through the line and take the ball 10 or 20 yards downfield.

I'm no longer scared. This man knows what he's doing in the backfield.

There is no dancing or changing direction 10 yards behind the line—he just hides behind his gigantic linemen and waits for his opportunity. Then he uses his incredible burst of speed to leave the defense in a dust trail.

What also makes him special is his vision. He doesn't just see the first cut he has to make, he sees the cuts he needs to make down the field, too. In that aspect, he reminds me of LeSean McCoy.

Bernard also has the short, stocky build of Ray Rice and the great hands to go with it. There aren't many running backs you will see lay out for a pass and actually catch it. Bernard can do just that.

He has the balance and cuts of Shady and the power of Rice, making him a tough back to bring down. Just when a defender thinks they have him, he bounces right off, turns on the afterburners and takes it in for a long score.

If it were possible for Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy to have a baby, the kid would grow up to be Giovani Bernard. Sorry for the analogy, fellas.

As long as he stays healthy, I will continue to label Bernard the best back in country because, well, he is.