Two-sport superstar carries Ferris State to perfect season
Ferris State (Mich.) completed a perfect season Saturday (14-0), winning its first-ever D-II football championship behind conference player of the year Jared Bernhard.
Driving the news: The triple-option QB, a fifth-year senior and graduate transfer, rushed for 349 yards and 8 TD in his final two games alone.
- Why it matters: Football's not even his best sport. Six months ago at Maryland, Bernhardt won the Tewaaraton Award as the nation's top college lacrosse player.
"He's one of the top athletes in the nation. I'm not exaggerating when I say he could play [football] at Michigan right now."— Ferris State coach Tony Annese
The backdrop: Bernhardt's late father, Jim, played football and lacrosse at Hofstra before becoming a college football coach and later serving as the Texans' director of research (2014-17).
- After Jim passed away from cancer in 2019, Jared decided to honor his legacy by using his final year of eligibility on a gridiron comeback.
By the numbers: The Florida native hadn't played football competitively since high school in 2015, but he picked up right where he left off this fall.
- Football: 10 games; 1,322 pass yards and 11 TD; 1,421 rush yards, 26 TD (most in D-II). Had he not missed four games to injury, he likely would've won the Harlon Hill Trophy (D-II's Heisman).
- Lacrosse: He's Maryland’s all-time leader in points (290) and goals (202), and one of the best attackmen of his generation.
The big picture: Bernhardt isn't the first elite lacrosse player to find success in another sport.
- Chris Hogan, the nine-year NFL vet, played lacrosse at Penn State and made a brief comeback in the Premier Lacrosse League last season.
- Pat Spencer, the 2019 Tewaaraton winner at Loyola (Md.), played basketball at Northwestern for a year, where he shined. After a brief stint abroad, he now plays for the Wizards' G League affiliate.
What's next: The PLL's Chaos drafted Bernhardt in April and still own his rights for another year. But don't be surprised if he lands a few NFL tryouts as a running back or receiver.