LEONARDTOWN, Md. – St. Mary's Ryken outside linebacker/defensive end Casey Bernard holds two early offers from Division I-AA programs James Madison and Old Dominion, but there are Division I schools giving him a look this spring. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder looks the part of a major college player, and during a recent NFTC Combine, flashing speed and violent hands, he beat several multi-offer offensive linemen off the ball.
"The recruiting is starting to pick up a little bit with coaches coming in," Bernard said. "I know Toledo was up here, Maryland was up here and a few other bigger schools are coming up. Hopefully I'll get a few more offers once I go to camps."
Bernard said UMD assistant Mike Locksley stopped by the Southern Maryland school in mid-May. The Ryken defender, who is being recruited mainly as an outside linebacker, said he'd love to hear more from Maryland's offensive coordinator.
"I would really like if Maryland got involved. It's the hometown school, and hopefully it happens," Bernard said. "I think it's a very good program with great coaches and great academics. I know Coach Locksley was down here and is in touch with some guys around the area, and I'd love for him to be in touch with me too."
Bernard said the chance to try his game in the Big Ten is of particular intrigue. The fact that UMD is so close to his home is appealing as well.
"I'd love to be near my family and have them be able to see me play," Bernard said. "And personally I love the Big Ten move. I think it's great for school in general, and it shows they're doing some real good things over there. I'd be honored to be part of that."
Last year Bernard attended UMD's one-day came and thought he performed well enough to enter onto the staff's radar. But he said he's gotten faster and stronger since then and is hoping to catch the coaches' eyes during this June's one-day.
"I come off the ball fast, I have good moves and I get after it," Bernard said. "I'm relentless and I think I've proven I can get to the quarterback. So hopefully these schools start to notice me more."
Other than Maryland, Bernard would like to hear more from a few southern schools. He's originally from Virginia and said his family grew up big fans of Tennessee and North Carolina.
"Some ACC schools in that [southern] area like Duke, Wake Forest and UNC – that would be great to hear from them," Bernard said. "My dream offers are Tennessee and Florida State, but I'm not too sure about [them pursuing]. Honestly, though, I'd love to get interest from anyone."
Bernard has visited the two programs that have offered him, which were the only two trips he took this spring. He had high praise for both JMU and ODU and has both firmly on his radar.
"I really liked ODU and the feel of the place. It's like the football players are hometown heroes around there," Bernard said. "And JMU was beautiful and it's a real good I-AA program. I liked both of them a lot."
The Ryken defender will attend numerous one-days this summer. Maryland is on the radar, as are numerous ACC programs. Barring any major game-changing offers, don't expect Bernard to make his college decision until after his senior film is released and evaluated.
TT Spring Recruit Tour: SMR's Casey Bernard
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