Bernard named ACC's Piccolo Award winner
Posted December 2, 2011
Greensboro, N.C. — 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).