ATLANTA — Wide receiver Jared Bernhardt caught the Falcons’ game-winning touchdown on Friday night against the Detroit Lions. But his journey to score that touchdown was anything but typical.
Earlier this week, Channel 2’s Alison Mastrangelo spoke with Bernhardt, an undrafted free agent hoping to make the final roster of 53 players with an unusual college football resume.
Bernhardt played lacrosse at the University of Maryland for four seasons and didn’t just play lacrosse. He excelled at this, ending his career as the school’s all-time record holder in career points, goals, points in a season, and goals.
He even won the Tewaaraton Award, given to the best lacrosse player in the country, which is like winning the Heisman Trophy in college football.
However, even though he dominated lacrosse, Jared still had football on his mind.
“It was kind of something between me and my dad. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I finished school in Maryland. So I thought about doing an extra year of football, and he kind of pushed for it and helped me start this process to, you know, send things to schools and try to find a house,” Bernhardt said.
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Bernhardt eventually found a home at Ferris State University as a quarterback. In his one and only season with the Bulldogs, he led them to an undefeated record and a Division II national championship. He passed for over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns and ran for 1,200 extra yards and 23 touchdowns.
Now he’s trying to make the Falcons roster as a wide receiver.
“It was an interesting transition and I’m excited to see him compete. It’s not easy to do, but he is a talented athlete. The guys have the right mindset, and we’ll see what happens,” said head coach Arthur Smith.
Bernhardt says there are similarities that could have helped him adapt and then re-adapt to both sports.
“I think maybe hand-eye coordination, you know, changes direction. I’m sure some people would probably say they’re similar,” Bernhardt said. But again, football is its own sport. There are things that carry on, but they are also things that you will work on.
In training camp, Bernhardt says he’s just trying to adapt to the speed of the NFL.
“I would say processing the information, you know, just listening to the caucus and processing it in a split second, you know, having to line up and you know your route is processing defense and things like that,” Bernhardt said. . “It’s definitely been a transition for sure.”
Bernhardt said “it would be great” to make the team, but for now he says he just wants to give his best.
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