Bernard racked up 114 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery in 2014 while seeing time at both Will and Sam linebacker positions in a defensive scheme which featured both 4-3 and 3-4 looks. He also developed some valuable leadership skills as he saw such early playing time when the starters in front of him were unable to play.
"We played a lot of zone, my role was really to be the leader of the defense. I'm not much of a vocal leader, I lead more by action and the way I do stuff and the way I work. Really, just keep everybody together, keep them calm in tough situations, rally them up when we're down. "
Power five schools are already entering the picture for the linebacker.
"Houston and Texas Tech have offered me so far. TCU has been kind of interested in me, I went on an unofficial visit last month, they invited me to their Friday Night Lights camp. A&M, I went up there for an unofficial visit. Miami sent me a couple letters and they came out last year during spring. My primary recruiter for Houston is Kenneth Pope and for Texas Tech it's coach Spavital."
Coach Zac Spavital, who coaches inside linebackers at Texas Tech, has developed a relationship with the standout linebacker.
"We've talked about four times since they offered me. We're pretty close. He invited me to go up to Lubbock and visit the campus, meet all the coaches. We're pretty cool. He doesn't pressure me at all. He's real mellow, he's always asking me how I'm doing and how my family's doing and how school's going. He said school always comes first, you're a student-athlete first. We'll talk football every now and then, just the mentality you have to have and the work ethic you have to have to succeed at the next level."
Bernard didn't get to attend either of the Houston-area Texas Tech satellite camps, but attended one last year. The idea of playing for Texas Tech and in the Big 12 is appealing to him.
"First of all, they play great competition in the Big 12 and that's always a plus. They're a really great school. I'd like to play on their defense and help them out a little bit if I could. Coach Spavital, I'd love to play for him too. It would be a fun experience."
The Houston-area prospect, who is being recruited by Texas Tech as a linebacker, spoke more about playing against the high level of competition in the Big 12.
"I'd love to play against that (competition), it's only going to make you better, it's gonna make you work harder during the offseason and make you better during the season. Whenever you can compete with people at the highest level, that's always a plus."
Bernard doesn't necessarily have a preference for scheme or style of defense at the next level, but feels he could excel as a weakside linebacker.
"I don't care what defense it is, really. I like to play outside linebacker, the Will preferably, and that's pretty much it. I feel like I can adjust and learn pretty much anything that they would need me to."
La Porte made the playoffs last season but lost in the first round to Pearland Dawson. With two seasons remaining, Bernard will see an expanded role in the defense moving forward and have more responsibility on his shoulders. He is eager to become a role model that younger players on the team can look up to.
"I'm excited, really excited about that. I've been thinking about that a lot. It's crazy because I remember when I used to look up to the main people on the defense and think how I wanted to be in their shoes, and now I am. You just kind of lead by example and do the right things."
The soon-to-be junior actually saw playing time as a freshman after unfortunate circumstances forced him into the spotlight early.
"The number one outside linebacker recruit in the class of 2014 was Hosa Scott, he played for us. He had gotten into some trouble in the offseason, I think they suspended him for like four games my freshman year. Then another of our players got hurt, he broke his hand, so they called me up from the freshman team and just from then on I've been playing."
Coach Spavital extended the offer back in May, and Bernard talked about how it happened.
"We were in spring practice, he was talking to our coaches, he came out during a spring practice and we talked a little bit. He gave me a card and told me to call him that night. When I called him he told me he really liked how I played the game and told me he had an offer for me. It was really exciting."
With the 2017 National Signing Day still a long ways off, the all-district linebacker will likely have plenty more offers to choose from before making his commitment. However, some schools are standing out to him. TCU, A&M, and Texas comprise the top three schools he doesn't have an offer from yet, while Texas Tech and Houston - who are the only schools who have offered to this point - are also among his favorites.
Bernard is still communicating with Coach Spavital and working to set up a visit to Texas Tech. He doesn't have a clear idea about a timeline for a commitment yet, but doesn't want to drag things out all the way to National Signing Day.
"I'll let it play out until I know for sure where I want to go, but I'm not the type of guy to be Hollywood and wait until the very end and have everybody waiting. Once I figure out for sure what I want to do, I'll let everybody know."