ATLANTA — Receiver Jared Bernhardt caught the game-winning touchdown for the Falcons on Friday night against the Detroit Lions. But his path to scoring that touchdown has been anything but typical.
Earlier this week, Channel 2′s Alison Mastrangelo spoke with Bernhardt, an undrafted free agent hoping to make the final 53-man roster with an unusual college football resume.
Bernhardt played lacrosse at the University of Maryland for four seasons and didn’t just play lacrosse. He excelled at it, ending his career as the school’s all-time record holder in career points, goals, single-season points, and goals.
He even won the Tewaaraton Award, given to the nation’s best lacrosse player, which is like winning the Heisman trophy in college football.
However, even though he dominated in lacrosse, Jared still had football on his mind.
“It was kind of something between me and my dad. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I finished school in Maryland. So I thought about doing an extra year of football, and he kind of pushed for that and helped me start that process to, you know, send out things to schools and try to find a home,” Bernhardt said.
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Bernhardt eventually found a home at Ferris State University as a quarterback. In his one and only season with the Bulldogs, he led them to an undefeated record and a Division II national championship. He passed for more than 1300 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for another 1200 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Now he’s trying to make the Falcons roster as a wide receiver.
“It’s been an interesting transition, and I’m excited to see him compete. It’s not easy to do, but he’s a talented athlete. Guys got the right mindset, and we’ll see what happens,” Head Coach Arthur Smith said.
Bernhardt says there are some similarities that could have helped him adapt and then readapt to both sports.
“I think maybe hand-eye coordination, you know, change the direction. I’m sure some people would probably say they’re similar,” Bernhardt said. But again, football is its own sport. There are some things that carry over, but they’re also things that you go to work on.”
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In training camp, Bernhardt says he is just trying to adjust to the speed of the NFL.
“I would say processing the information, you know, just listening to the huddle and process it in a split second, you know, having to line up and you know your route process the defense and things like that,” Bernhardt said. “It’s definitely been a transition for sure.”
Bernhardt said, “it would be awesome” to make the team, but for now, he says he just wants to give his best.
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