Bernard has star power

IrishEyes and Scout.com take a look at Notre Dame commitment Giovanni Bernard. Scout.com's No. 12 running back from St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) committed to the Irish shortly after he made an official visit to Notre Dame for the USC game.

Notre Dame needed to add one more running back to the 2010 recruiting class, and when Gio Bernard (5-foot-9, 195-pounds) pledged to the Irish, they got the player they needed. According to Scout.com recruiting analyst Chad Simmons, Notre Dame may have landed the top running back in the state of Florida.

"Bernard is a running back that runs with great balance and he has showed very good vision," Simmons said. "Having those two attributes along with power, the ability to break tackles, and to make guys miss, makes him one of the top backs in the country. He runs with a low center of gravity and gives defenders very limited space to hit him making him tough to bring down one on one. Bernard also runs behind his pads well and keeps his legs churning to get the extra yards. He is not a speed back, but he has a nice initial burst through the hole and gets to the second level nicely. He is not a true homerun back, but he has the speed to get to the edge and break 50-yard runs on the next level. Bernard can run inside and outside as well and he is built to be an every down back and early contributor at Notre Dame.

"When all is said and done in 2009, Bernard could end up being the top back in the state of Florida. It is a battle between him and Eduardo Clements at this time."

Scout.com recruiting analyst Mike Bakas also agrees that the Irish are getting one of the top players in the state of Florida. According to Bakas:

"Notre Dame came into Florida and landed a commitment from one of the state's top running back prospects. Gio has established himself as one of the top running back prospects in Florida's 2010 class. He's a top five player at the position and it's a huge get for the Irish. They didn't even appear to be in the mix a couple months ago so they made a very strong push for him and his official visit there really sealed the deal. He's listed on Scout as a four-star prospect (3-star in my opinion) who should become a very solid running back at the college level.

What to Like: "Gio Bernard knows how to run the football. The first thing that jumps out about him is how good his instincts are. He truly understands the game and the position very well. He reads defenses really well, knows how to pick and choose holes. He does a nice job of using his blockers and a lot of that comes from having instincts and excellent vision. If there's a small hole, he'll find a way to hit it. Those instincts have enabled him to become one of the most productive running back prospects in south Florida over the last couple seasons. Even though he runs behind a terrific high school offensive line, he's averaged close to 10 yards per carry over the last two seasons so he's been ultra productive. He also comes from what might be the top prep program in the entire state so he'll be used to competing, he'll know what it takes to win, and he'll bring a very positive mentality to the Irish. Having a St. Thomas running back commitment certainly can't hurt the Irish chances for landing All-American left tackle Brandon Linder, either.

What may concern you: "Gio lacks ideal height at 5-foot-8. While he's a solidly built kid at close to 200 pounds, he's small in stature and that's one of the reasons why he didn't become the elite national recruit that many expected him to become. Indeed, he was still recruited nationally but being 5-8 may limit his upside somewhat. He has limited pass-catching experience coming out of the backfield so it remains to be seen what type of weapon he can be doing that. He's also shared time his entire career at STA with fellow Div 1 recruit James White so he was never asked to carry the load 20-25 times a game. Maybe he'll be able to do that in college but it remains to be seen from an experience standpoint. And while he has pretty good speed, he doesn't have the elite speed you see in some 5-8 running backs who were recruited as heavily as Bernard was.


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