Irish Offer Overwhelms Bernard

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis has been watching Giovanni Bernard play football for years.

On Wednesday, Weis pulled the trigger and offered the 5-foot-9, 195-pound running back from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, a scholarship.

"He said he can see me playing in a Notre Dame uniform," Gio Bernard said. "It was overwhelming.

"He was talking to me about how he's been watching me since my freshman year, because he used to come in for Major (Wright) and a couple other kids."

Some of those kids, now play for Weis.

Weis has been able to land signatures on letters-of-intent from several other Raiders players in the past. Current offensive linemen Sam Young and Dan Wenger played their high school ball at St. Thomas Aquinas, and so did class-of-2009 signees Ben Turk and Jordan Cowart.

Now, Weis is trying to lure Bernard and his current classmates Brandon Linder and Cody Riggs.

"I really don't know too much about them," Bernard said of Notre Dame. He also holds scholarship offers from Miami, West Virginia, Boston College, Auburn, Rutgers, Maryland, Florida International and Oregon State, where his older brother Yvenson played running back.

"I'm still looking around at schools, but usually I've been stuck watching my brother's football team Oregon State. Now, I'm starting to look at teams deeper than what's on the TV. I know education wise, Notre Dame is top of the line. My teachers talk about it all of the time."

"We kind of have a pipeline there."

While Weis and his staff will be trying to recruit Bernard to their school over the next several months, it was former NFL receiver Cris Carter that helped convince Bernard that St. Thomas Aquinas was the place for him. Carter's younger son Duron played football with Bernard when they were kids in Delray, Fla. Carter eventually enrolled his boy at St. Thomas Aquinas, and after talking with Bernard's family, they also decided that was the right move for them a year later. The younger Carter has since signed with Ohio State, and next February, Bernard will also be inking with a major program.

"I'm basically just looking for a good position coach," Bernard said. "I'm really a person about position coaches. I just have to have a good relationship with them. I could care less about uniforms, cleats, stuff like that. Like everyone wants to go to Oregon because they get the cool new gear. I'm just hoping to have a good relationship with the running backs coach, and go somewhere where I can play kind of early."

Bernard played real early at St. Thomas Aquinas. As a freshman in the powerhouse program, he saw time during mop-up duty of several blowout wins. As a sophomore, Bernard found himself in the starting lineup, and carried the ball 105 times for 698 yards and seven touchdowns. This past season, in helping lead St. Thomas Aquinas to a state championship and the final No. 1 ranking in the country by ESPN Rise, Bernard rushed 160 times for 1,579 yards (9.6 avg.) and 18 scores.

Besides talking with Weis, Bernard said he really enjoyed chatting with Notre Dame running backs coach Tony Alford for the first time.

"He was ecstatic," Bernard said. "He was talking about my film. He said I love the way you run, the way you finish your runs, the way you get out there."

Now the Irish staff wants to know when Bernard will visit the Irish campus.

"To tell you the truth, I have no clue," Bernard said. He's also been keeping in touch with Irish assistant coach Bernie Parmalee. "Hopefully soon, I'll check them out, but right now I'm trying to relax and lay back and not think about all this right now."


IrishIllustrated.com Top Stories