Notre Dame picked up commitment #17 on the season on Monday with Saint Thomas Aquinas running back Giovanni Bernard. The Fort Lauderdale native visited Notre Dame for the USC game two weeks and visited Colorado this past weekend before picking the Irish.
Bernard is a compact running back with excellent vision and balance. He gets a lot of yards after contact because of his ability to stay on his feet. He isn’t a burner, but he makes plenty of big runs by hitting the hole quick and breaking tackles. He is a very well rounded back who has the ability to be a #1, work-horse type running back on the college level.
Bernard told Irish Sports Daily that academics were a big part of the reason he selected Notre Dame.
“I picked them because they have a good situation for me,” Bernard said. The St. Thomas Aquinas standout becomes the 17th player to give Irish head coach Charlie Weis his oral pledge, and second running back joining Cameron Roberson. “Coach (Tony) Alford, the running backs coach was truthful to me, and most of all, the education that they offer and life after football is my biggest thing.”
He also told Oregon Live that the coaching staff, and its similarities to his coaching staff at Saint Thomas Aquinas, played a role in his decision.
“It’s just a great program all around and it has everything I am looking for in a school,” Bernard told Rivals.com. “I visited there for the USC game. They work like our coaches at St. Thomas. It should be an easy transition for me but I know it would be no matter where I go.”
Tom Lemming rates Bernard as a four star running back mainly for his vision and tackle-breaking ability.
“I really like him,” said Lemming, who gives Bernard four-plus stars on his five-star scale. “I thought he was one of the better running backs in the country. Even though he’s small, he’s the kind of small back you like.”
“He’s got the balance, vision and leg strength that Notre Dame is looking for,” Lemming said. “The height doesn’t matter. What matters is the leg strength and the ability to break tackles.”
Lemming’s opinion on Bernard is backed up by the highlight reel below.
Bernard has been hampered by a hamstring injury this year which has caused him to miss multiple games, but as a junior he ran for 1,528 yards on 160 carries with 15 touchdowns. That’s an impressive average yards per carry of 9.6.
This gives Notre Dame two running backs with Bernard joining Cameron Roberson and closes out running back recruiting in this class. Bernard also hails from the same high school as current Notre Dame players Sam Young, Dan Wenger, Ben Turk, and Jordan Cowart. He also has three teammates – Cody Riggs (CB), LaMarcus Joyner (CB), and Bradon Linder (OT) – that Notre Dame is currently recruiting and hoping will join him in the class of 2010.