Gio Bernard was the best running back prospect in college football last season and would have been a top Heisman candidate had he chose to return in 2013.
After missing all of 2010 with a knee injury an another couple games this season to another knee injury, he was just one Marcus Lattimore type of injury away from seeing his dream put in serious doubt. That’s why I’m glad Bernard made the choice he made Friday.
As college football fans, we want to see the best players remain in school and play on Saturdays for as long as possible. At the same time, think about the kids dream and his future. Sure as football players everybody dreams of playing college football, but the ultimate dream is playing in the NFL and making millions of dollars.
Bernard is no stranger to injury and it would have been devastating to see the young man with so much talent lose out on that dream. Bernard seems to understand the risk and the importance of obtaining his degree to have something to fall back on. Which is why I’m confident he made the right choice. Some players aren’t smart enough or motivated enough to still get that degree after becoming professional athletes. Bernard isn’t one that anybody should worry about in that respect.
He will be the first back taken in the 2013 draft and likely will be a first round pick given that he has proven to be a threat as a runner, receiver and punt returner. Other than collegiate accolades, Bernard had nothing to gain by sticking around Chapel Hill but plenty to lose. As it stands he is still one of the most electrifying players to ever put on pads for the Heels and I’m excited to watch him play on Sundays.