Gio Bernard to leave UNC, enter NFL Draft
Posted December 14, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — University of North Carolina sophomore running back Gio Bernard will skip his remaining eligibility with the Tar Heels and enter the 2013 NFL Draft, the school announced Friday.
Bernard, a Florida native, ran for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, earning first-team All-ACC honors as a running back and specialist. His 198.1 all-purpose yards per game ranked fourth nationally in 2012 and set a UNC single-season record.
In a season full of highlight plays, Bernard's finest moment in 2012 came against NC State in late October. His punt return touchdown with 13 seconds left secured a 43-35 Tar Heels victory and ended a five-year losing streak against the Wolfpack.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Chapel Hill and coming to UNC was one of the best decisions I've ever made," Bernard said in a statement. "I feel like the best decision for my future is to enter the NFL draft this year. I want to thank Coach Fedora, this coaching staff and the previous coaching staff for putting me in a position to succeed. I am on track to graduate and I plan on coming back to earn my degree in the Spring of 2014."
Bernard finished second to Tahj Boyd in the ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year races, falling short by one vote for each award.
Despite missing two games, Bernard scored a league-best 19 touchdowns (12 rushing, five receiving, two on punt returns) and averaged 11.4 points per game to rank fifth in the country.
"Gio is a special player and an even better person," Fedora said in a statement. "He flourished in our offense and was an outstanding leader for our program. After the season was over, we helped him gather as much information as possible so he and his family could make the best decision for his future. We support his decision and wish him nothing but success as he takes the next step in his football career."
After redshirting in 2010 due to a knee injury, Bernard earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2011 by rushing for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns.