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Bernard named ACC's Piccolo Award winner

Posted December 2, 2011

— University of North Carolina running back Gio Bernard missed last season with a torn ACL suffered in a preseason practice. He responded in his redshirt year by leading the nation in rushing by a freshman and on Friday was named the winner of the Brian Piccolo award given to the “most courageous” player in the ACC.

Bernard was third in the ACC in rushing yards with 1,222 and second in rushing touchdowns with 13. Bernard’s 14 total touchdowns tied him with Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington as the highest scoring position player in the ACC.

He became the first 1,000-yard back for the Tar Heels since Jonathan Linton in 1997 and his total ground yards were the most by a UNC back since Derrick Fenner in 1986.

The only other freshman in the FBS to go over 1,00 yards rushing on the year was Connecticut running back Lyle McCombs whose 1,109 is more than 100 yards behind Bernard.

The 5-foot-10 Florida native, Bernard was also second in the ACC in yards from scrimmage averaging 129 per game. With still one game remaining in the season, his yardage total is the 3rd-best by an ACC freshman.

Bernard became the second UNC freshman running back to be named to the All-ACC First Team Monday, joining Amos Lawrence in 1977.

Earlier this year, Bernard became the first Tar Heel since Ethan Horton in 1984 to have five consecutive 100-yard rushing games and went over 100 seven times. He was named ACC Rookie of the Week three times this year,

Coincidentally, Bernard played his prep football at the same high school as Piccolo. The former Chicago Bears running back who had his career cut short by cancer led the nation in rushing in 1965 with 1,044 yards. Both Bernard and Piccolo played at Central Catholic High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Central Catholic was the predecessor for St. Thomas Aquinas High School, which is where Bernard played.

Bernard is the fifth North Carolina player to be honored with the Picccolo Award, joining Robert Quinn (2008), Danny Burmeister (1985), Jim Webster (1971) and Paul Miller (1970).

23 Comments

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  • Tarheel born Dec 3, 2:36 p.m.

    And what a great and well deserved honor for Gio!!

  • Tarheel born Dec 3, 2:34 p.m.

    I just went back and read this one. I was at the game at UNC when Horton did the deal in 84. I... View More

    — Posted by Sauras69

    It's a tremendous conflict for me....My Dad played and graduated from Clemson and my son graduates this spring from VT.......I guess I can't lose..

    So GO HEELS!!

  • Sauras69 Dec 2, 9:27 p.m.

    I just went back and read this one. I was at the game at UNC when Horton did the deal in 84. I... View More

    — Posted by Sauras69

    Yes, good luck to your Hokies. Looks like they may be the best football team from the ACC in... View More

    — Posted by rherring23

    Thank you kind sir. I think we will win by 2-3 scores tomorrow. Could be that Kirk Herbstreet is a deek wead. Fork him too. Ha. Thank you for your statement.

  • rherring23 Dec 2, 9:22 p.m.

    I just went back and read this one. I was at the game at UNC when Horton did the deal in 84. I... View More

    — Posted by Sauras69

    Yes, good luck to your Hokies. Looks like they may be the best football team from the ACC in quite a while. Very impressive team and the way they are playing now, think they could play with just about any team in the country.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Dec 2, 7:07 p.m.

    Yep, nice comeback for Gio!

    (I wonder if Carolina fans will show up here complaining that the... View More

    — Posted by TruthBKnown Banned Again02

    the first 2 posts are from carolina fans :)

    Congrats Gio, way to come back and give us our first... View More

    — Posted by Rdi73162

    Oops! Didn't realize this was page two of the comments when I wrote that. I thought comments #11 and #12 were #1 and #2. :)

  • Sauras69 Dec 2, 6:18 p.m.

    I just went back and read this one. I was at the game at UNC when Horton did the deal in 84. I met Dean Smith and his wife in the parking lot when leaving the game. Shook ol Dean's hand, and wished him the best. I'll never forget meeting him, and seeing him smoking a cig. One for the memory books to meet Dean Smith. Still the greatest coach ever.

    Hey. Can some of you guys pull for the Hokies tomorrow? Thanks. I knew that you would.

  • Rdi73162 Dec 2, 6:16 p.m.

    Yep, nice comeback for Gio!

    (I wonder if Carolina fans will show up here complaining that the... View More

    — Posted by TruthBKnown Banned Again02

    the first 2 posts are from carolina fans :)

    Congrats Gio, way to come back and give us our first 1,000yd rusher in quite awhile.

  • tarprint1 Dec 2, 6:06 p.m.

    Congrats to Gio. You are the man !

  • GhostofSmitty Dec 2, 5:40 p.m.

    Very nice reward for an outstanding athlete. Congrats, Gio! How ironic that he went to the... View More

    — Posted by tommybrownnc

    Downtown Tommy Brown with the trivia! You go girl! @;~)

    Same here, a great kid truly deserving the award.

  • Deacons Dec 2, 5:32 p.m.

    No need for stupid smack talk, let's give him credit.... good job, he deserves it.

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