Giovani Bernard spent the past two years scampering all over the ACC. Now, the North Carolina Tar Heels running back will attempt to do the same at the next level.
He has decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility and declare for the 2013 NFL draft, according to CollegeFootballTalk:
Bernard: "I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Chapel Hill and coming to UNC was one of the best decisions I've ever made."— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) December 14, 2012
Bernard: "I feel like the best decision for my future is to enter the NFL draft this year."— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) December 14, 2012
Though he's just a redshirt sophomore, Bernard's decision should surprise few. He's considered one of the top running back prospects and could continue creeping up draft boards with strong workout performances.
After redshirting his freshman season, Bernard burst onto the scene in 2011 and continued his brilliance this season. Bernard ran for 2,481 yards and 25 touchdowns over the past two seasons, proving himself as one of the ACC's most explosive offensive forces.
Still, it's his intriguing work as a pass-catching back that's most intriguing for NFL coaches. The North Carolina star grabbed 92 balls for 852 yards in his career, displaying soft hands that are coveted at the next level.
That dual-threat ability made Bernard a no-brainer choice for first-team All-ACC this season and may also be what makes him a first-round pick come April. As the NFL's emphasis on the passing game becomes heavier, the quarterback having a check-down receiver out of the backfield is an integral part of the offense.
Sure, it's great that Arian Foster can tote the ball out of the backfield 300-plus times without getting hurt. But it's his ability to make plays in the passing game that makes him one of the best running backs in the league.
Like Foster, Bernard is the rare running back prospect who can excel on all three downs. Don't be shocked to see him become the first back off the board in April, possibly landing in the middle of the first round.