Could North Carolina's Giovani Bernard Be the Next C.J. Spiller?

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst IApril 13, 2010

It seems we as a college football nation love to pronounce a player as the next something.

Everybody seems to be the next great big thing these days. We love using comparisons in order to put as much pressure as we can on young athletes. We have to make sure they how know great they have to be, right?

Joe McKnight was supposed to be the next Reggie Bush, Andre Debose is now supposed to be the next Percy Harvin, Jake Locker is the next Steve Young, and so and so on.

Well, I figured if everyone else gets to do it, then I get to throw one out as well.

Giovani Bernard = The next C.J. Spiller

Bernard, the superstar back from Florida's St. Thomas Aquinas high school, has committed to Butch Davis and the North Carolina Tar Heels. So could he follow in Spiller’s footsteps and turn out to be the next big playmaker in the ACC?

Only time will tell, but judging from the way Bernard runs, he’s got as good as shot as anybody.

There are some terrific running backs in the ACC this year, but none (not even Ryan Williams) can match Gio’s top trait.

His balance.

It’s a characteristic that every truly great running back possesses. Speed can get you far, but having top-notch balance can set you apart.

Spiller had it, Harvin had it, Bush had it, and Bernard has it as well.

He does not have the raw speed of those kinds of players but Gio’s never-go-down mentality and tackle-breaking ability allow him to bust off the same type of big runs.

His balance allows him to bounce runs and elude tacklers, which is something his brother Yvenson did a lot of at Oregon State a few years ago. However, the younger Bernard could actually turn out to be even better. Don’t be surprised if Giovani turns into a faster, stronger version of Yvenson.

Even though Giovani was hurt most of his senior season with a hamstring injury, if you go back and watch him as a junior, you’ll see an elite running back prospect.

He rushed for 1,578 yards while scoring 18 touchdowns for an Aquinas team that went 15-0. Bernard was one of the main reasons the team finished ranked as the best in the nation, and we was one of the most feared offensive weapons in the country.

It’s that tape that made him one of the most coveted prospects in this recruiting class. It’s why schools like Florida, Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, and Tennessee all lined up for his services before he ultimately decided on the Irish.

That is, until Charlie Weis was fired. He followed that decision from Notre Dame with a decision of his own. He was switching from navy blue to Carolina blue and becoming a Tar Heel.

It might just turn out to be the best possible fit.

Bernard brings a fresh set of legs to the “thunder and lightning” backfield of Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn.

At 5'9", with a body more thick and packed with strength than a normal 200-pounder, look for the young Florida native to bring a lot of value to the Tar Heels over the coming years.

Bernard doesn't come into college with many labels attached. He isn't considered a breakaway threat, a home-run hitter, or a power back. He is just an all-around tremendous talent that doesn't need embellished descriptions.

He looks to let his running speak for itself. At times those runs can look punishing and out of the ordinary, but they always seem to get the job done.

Giovani Bernard may not be the human highlight reel that C.J. Spiller was, but don’t be surprised to see him making big Spiller-esque game-changing plays in the very near future.


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