Redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard came to North Carolina in 2010 as the No. 12-ranked running back in the nation by Rivals.com, but he didn’t play a down of football after he tore his ACL on the third day of fall practice.
“It’s a blessing just to be able to come back out here and to know that I’m 100 percent and to be able to show everybody that I’m 100 percent. And to show everybody that I am better than I was in high school,” Bernard said.
In high school Bernard rushed for 1,528 yards with 18 touchdowns on 160 carries as a junior — nearly 10 yards per carry.
Division I football might dwarf prep ball, but Renner seems to think Bernard is prepared for a good year.
“I think he’s kind of like (NFL running back) Maurice Jones-Drew,” Renner said. “He’s very quick. He makes great jump cuts in the hole. I think that’s what we need.”
That’s high praise for a player who hasn’t taken a single handoff at North Carolina. But interim head coach Everett Withers expresses the same sentiments about Bernard.
Bernard’s willing to do whatever the team needs. Line him up in the backfield or in the slot, he won’t question it — just as long as he gets the chance to impact the game.
“I see myself fitting in anywhere,” Bernard said. “Whatever they feel I need to do to help this team win, I’m going to do it.”
Another player who has already tried to fit in a few other positions is A.J. Blue. Blue was a former quarterback with whom the Tar Heels attempted to run a Wildcat offense in 2009.
In some respects, each of UNC’s backfield options has struggled to consistently contribute in the past. Two are returning from a missed season, and Blue is looking to add what he can in a new position.
But all three are hungry.
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