BIG Geoff Berniard Making BIG Noise in Recruiting

Gene's Page caught up with Geoff Berniard, a 6-foot-8, 310-pound senior-to-be offensive tackle who plays for St. Thomas More in Lafayette, La., Thursday night. Here's what Geoff had to say about how his recruitment is going.

Geoff Berniard earned numerous honors last year, including first-team All-District for District 5-AAAA, first-team All-Lafayette Parish, first-team All-Acadiana Area, first-team All-State Louisiana Sportswriters, and second-team All-State Coaches Poll. His tremendous size, along with his quickness and strength, makes him a great Division I prospect.

He has already gotten his name out by attending the LSU spring game and Junior Day. He also had initially planned on attending MSU's spring game, but an accident (mashed finger) in the weight room curtained that.

As Geoff said, the injury was just a temporary setback. In fact, he showed the mentality that the great offensive linemen all have.

"The doctor told me the first day there was no way I would make it back in the spring," said Geoff with a determination that will impress more than a doctor. "I went back and he said, 'maybe, you will play in the spring game.' The following week he said, 'you can practice in about five days.' It's fine now. I started back practicing. I am full contact, now."

Now, with the injury all but healed, Geoff is enjoying a recruiting process that is in full swing.

As most high school prospects are right now, Geoff is receiving his share of recruiting letters (39 different schools, so far), including most, if not all, of the SEC schools.

Mississippi State is included in that number. At first, he was receiving three letters a week from MSU, mostly from running back coach Glenn Davis. After the letters tailed off for a short while, they picked back up. This time, the letters were signed by new MSU wide receiver coach Guy Holliday. Even MSU head coach Jackie Sherrill, well known for recruiting huge offensive linemen, has sent Geoff several letters.

With letters from 39 different schools safely stored away in a couple of binders, Geoff continues to see his recruitment heat up with the beginning of the spring evaluation period.

So far, coaches from LSU, Northwestern (Chicago), Florida State, Minnesota, Tulane, Colorado, UL-Lafayette, McNeese State, UL-Monroe have come by his school, with many more yet to come.

One coach was so impressed with what he saw on tape and in person, he called Geoff on his cell phone a day or two later.

I'll let Geoff tell you how that call came about and the surprise ending.

"It was totally out of the blue," a still somewhat surprised Geoff said. "The Florida State coach was at a local high school near here watching film on a kid. They put in a tape of our game and they showed me blocking him. The coach said he very impressed with me. He got directions to get to our school and he came here. He didn't talk to me, but talked to our coaches. Thursday, my cell phone rang. It was him. One of my coaches gave him my number. We talked for about 5 or 10 minutes."

Due to it being a private conversation, I'll paraphrase it instead of quoting the coach. The coach told Geoff he was offering him a scholarship. Geoff said he was shocked. He told the coach he wasn't ready to commit at that time but that he did like Florida State a lot.

With one scholarship offer now on the table, Geoff continues with football practice and school work, while eagerly awaiting the next step in the recruiting process: The summer football camps.

Geoff has even figured out what camps he wants to attend.

"I'm going to the Mississippi State, for sure, the two-day (camp) on June 14th-15th," said Geoff. "I am going to an LSU one-day camp. It is a one day straight offensive-defensive lineman (camp). If plans go through, I might go to the Florida State camp this summer. I might be attending the Nike Camp in Auburn (on May 18th). I might be there, I might not. I'm not sure. Our prom is the 17th, so I don't know."

When asked what schools he is most interested in at this point of the recruiting process, Geoff, seemingly a veteran of the recruiting process even though he is only 17 years old, told me he already has a top 6 list of schools. He even ranked them in order from 1 to 6.

"I have a top 6 or 7," said Geoff. "It is probably Mississippi State, then LSU and Florida State. I'm not sure what LSU is going to do. I'm getting mixed signals from them, right now. Then, Virginia Tech. I want to go up there. I've been looking at them a lot. Then, the University of Florida. Then, probably, the in-state school, Louisiana-Lafayette."

Just before getting off the phone with Geoff, I asked him what he thought about the entire recruiting process such as having recruiting letters mailed to him from schools all across the nation, coaches coming to his school and calling him, and recruiting writers like me calling him just to find out what his recruiting thoughts are.

"I think it is fun," said Geoff with quiet excitement in his voice. "I'm enjoying the whole recruiting process."


Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi high school sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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