Giovani Bernard

Giovani Bernard

refer to caption

Bernard in 2013
No. 25Cincinnati Bengals
Position: Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1991-11-22) November 22, 1991
Place of birth: West Palm Beach, Florida
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 208 lb (94 kg)
Career information
High school: Fort Lauderdale (FL) Aquinas
College: North Carolina
NFL Draft: 2013 / Round: 2 / Pick: 37
Career history
Roster status: Injured reserve
Career highlights and awards
  • Third-team All-American (2012)
  • First-team All-ACC (2011, 2012)
  • ACC Offensive Player of the Year (2012)
  • CFPA Punt Returner Trophy (2012)
  • Pro Football Focus All-AFC Team (2013)
  • PFW\PFWA All-Rookie Team (2013)
Career NFL statistics as of 2016
Rushing yards: 2,442
Average: 4.2
Rushing TDs: 14
Receptions: 187
Receiving yards: 1,671
Receiving TDs: 6
Player stats at

Giovani Govan Bernard (born November 22, 1991) is an American football running back for the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Bengals in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.[1] He played college football at North Carolina.

Early years

Bernard was born in West Palm Beach, Florida. He began playing football for the local tackle football league, the Boca Jets. He played high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida,[2] where he was teammates with Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner. While in high school, he was ranked the No. 2 running back in Florida by the Orlando Sentinel and the No. 12 running back in the United States by He is the younger brother of former Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard.

Bernard is the son of Haitian immigrant parents, who own a dry cleaning business in Boca Raton, Florida.[3]

Bernard was recruited by many schools and first committed to Notre Dame,[4] but ultimately decided on the University of North Carolina.

Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight 40 Commit date
Giovani Bernard
Davie, FL St. Thomas Aquinas 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) 196.5 lb (89.1 kg) 4.5 s Jan 28, 2010 
Scout: N/A   Rivals:4/5 stars   247Sports: N/A    ESPN grade: 79
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 94, 13 (RB)   Rivals: 186, 14 (RB)  ESPN: 16 (RB)
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


College career

Giovani Bernard (#26) in 2012

Bernard enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and played for the North Carolina Tar Heels football team from 2010 to 2012. During the third day of practice, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee after trying to cut away from a defender [4] and redshirted the 2010 season.[5][6]

Bernard recovered from the injury and became the starting tailback for the Tar Heels in the 2011 college football season.[7][8][9][10] He became the first North Carolina running back to rush for at least 100 yards in five straight games since Ethan Horton in 1984.[11] His season-high came against Georgia Tech on September 24, 2011, rushing for 155 yards.[12] In mid-October 2011, Bernard was added to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, presented annually to the best player in college football.[13] During the 2011 regular season, Bernard's 1,222 rushing yards ranked 20th among NCAA Division I FBS players.[14] Bernard also had 326 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games.[12] Bernard was the first running back to eclipse the 1,000-yards plateau at North Carolina since Jonathan Linton did it in 1997. He was also the top freshman running back in the nation in yards per game that season.

In the first year of head coach Larry Fedora's spread offense in the 2012 season, Bernard increased his rushing yards per game, average yards per carry and receiving yards. He also returned punts for the first time in his college career. On October 27, 2012, Bernard returned a punt 74 yards against NC State in the last 30 seconds of the game to break the tie and win the game.[15] He led Carolina in scoring for the second year in a row and averaged 198.1 all-purpose yards per game, third in the country behind two receivers.[16] The head coaches in the ACC voted Bernard to All-ACC first-team and Bernard was second in player-of-the-year and offensive player-of-the-year voting.[17] He also won the CFPA Punt Returner Trophy for the 2012 season.[18]

College career statistics

Year GP–GS Rushing Receiving Punt Returns
Att Gain Loss Net Avg TD Long Avg/G Rec Rec–Yards Avg TD Long Avg/G No. Yards Avg TD Long
2011 13–11 239 1,324 71 1,253 5.2 13 60 96.4 45 362 8.0 1 23 27.8 0 0 0.0 0 0
2012 10–10 184 1,270 42 1,228 6.7 12 68 122.8 47 490 10.4 5 78 49.0 16 263 16.4 2 74

Professional career

2013 NFL Draft

Giovani Bernard at training camp, 2013

Bernard declared himself eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft.[19] He was projected as a first or second round pick. Bernard was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round, 37th overall. Prior to Bernard, a running back from North Carolina had not been selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft since Natrone Means in 1993.

Pre-draft measurables
Ht WtArm lengthHand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
5 ft 8 in 202 lb28 in9 3/8 in 4.53 s 1.56 s 2.55 s 4.12 s 6.91 s 33 1/2 in 10 ft 2 in 19 reps
All values from NFL Combine.[20]

Cincinnati Bengals

2013 season

On May 23, 2013, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Bernard to a four-year, $5.25 million contract, with a $2.2 million signing bonus and $3.2 million guaranteed.[21][22]

Bernard began his rookie season serving as a back-up to veteran Benjarvus Green-Ellis and began transitioning to a change-of-pace back throughout the season. He played in his first game in the Bengals' season opener against the Chicago Bears. He finished his first career game with 4 carries for 22 rushing yards and an 8-yard reception. On September 16, 2013, Bernard scored two touchdowns in a 20–10 Monday night win over the Bengals' division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.[23]

On October 31, 2013, Bernard scored two touchdowns on 9 carries in an overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins. Bernard's second score came on a 35-yard touchdown run that was praised by commentators as one of the best runs of the season.[24]

On December 8, 2013, Bernard had a season-high 99 rushing yards on 12 carries while also racking up 49 receiving yards on 4 catches in a 42–38 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.[25]

In his first season with the Bengals, they finished with an 11–5 record and were a part of the playoffs. Bernard played in his first playoff game on January 5, 2014, against the San Diego Chargers.[26]

Bernard finished the season second on the team in rushing (695 yards), receptions (56), and total yards (1,209), while ranking third in receiving yards (514) and touchdowns (five rushing and three receiving).[27]

2014 season

During the off-season, Benjarvus Green-Ellis was not resigned.[28] To complement Bernard's running style, the Bengals drafted Jeremy Hill in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.[29] He was named as the Bengals' starting running back for the beginning of the season.[30] In their season opener at the Baltimore Ravens, on September 7, 2014, Benard earned his first career start, carrying the ball 14 times for 48 yards, and made 6 receptions for 62 receiving yards.[31]

On October 12, 2014, against the Carolina Panthers, he had his first career game with over 100 rushing yards.[32] After starting the first 7 games of the season, he missed Weeks 9–11 due to injury.[33] He finished his second season with a total of 168 carries, 680 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 43 catches, 349 receiving yards, and 2 receiving touchdowns in 13 games and 9 starts.[27]

2015 season

On September 20, 2015, Bernard rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries in his absence, the lone Bengal to eclipse the 100-yard mark on the season.[34]

On October 11, 2015, the Bengals pulled off the second biggest comeback in franchise history, rallying from 17 points down to defeat the two-time defending NFC-Champion Seattle Seahawks in overtime, 27–24.[35] In the win, Bernard tallied 101 yards from scrimmage including 80 on the ground.[36]

On December 20, 2015, Bernard got his first start of the season against the San Francisco 49ers, rushing for 33 yards on 14 carries in a 24–14 Bengals' win.[37]

In the Bengals' 18-16 playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bernard was injured on a hit by linebacker Ryan Shazier. He fumbled (and lost) the ball and did not return to the game.[38] It was his first lost fumble since his rookie season in a 27–10 playoff loss to the Chargers.

2016 season

On September 18, 2016, Benard caught a career-high 9 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers, his second 100-plus receiving yard game and his 6th receiving touchdown of his career.[39]

On October 23, 2016, Benard ran for a season-high 80 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns.[40]

On October 30, 2016, Benard scored his third touchdown of the season against the Washington Redskins.[41]

On November 20, 2016, Bernard suffered a torn ACL during a 16-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.[42][43]

Career statistics


Cincinnati Bengals
  Rushing Receiving Fumbles
Season Team GP Att Yds Avg Yds/G Long TD Rec Yds Long TD Fum Lost
2013 CIN 16 170 695 4.1 43.4 35T 5 56 514 41 3 1 1
2014 CIN 13 168 680 4.0 52.3 89T 5 43 349 46 2 0 0
2015 CIN 16 154 730 4.7 45.6 28 2 49 472 45 0 2 0
Career total 45 492 2,105 4.3 46.8 89 12 148 1,335 46 5 3 1


  2. Concepcio Ledezma (October 25, 2008). "Aquinas' Bernard, Bucci run wild in blowout". Miami Herald.
  3. UNC running back Giovani Bernard, an ex-St. Thomas Aquinas standout, has battled to become a budding star
  4. 1 2 "UNC tailback Bernard close to reaching 1,000-yard benchmark". The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  5. "Giovani Bernard Bio". University of North Carolina. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  6. "Knee injury sidelines North Carolina RB Bernard for 2010 season". USA Today. August 9, 2010.
  7. Aaron Beard (September 5, 2011). "Bernard's return bolsters UNC rushing attack". Houston Chronicle (AP story).
  8. Harold Gutman (September 2011). "Surprise starter Bernard delivers for Tar Heels". The Herald-Sun.
  9. Caulton Tudor (October 5, 2011). "UNC tailback Bernard making up for lost time at record pace". Charlotte Observer.
  10. "Bernard has used his size to his advantage as Heels' tailback". Shelby Star (Cleveland County, N.C.). October 7, 2011.
  11. "Giovani Bernard, Dwight Jones score to help UNC overcome slow start to beat Louisville 14-7". The Washington Post. October 8, 2011.
  12. 1 2 "Giovani Bernard statistics". Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  13. "Giovani Bernard Added To Maxwell Club Watch List". Tar Heel Times. October 11, 2011.
  14. "Rushing Yards Leaders - All Players". Retrieved November 27, 2011.
  15. Clip of Bernard's touchdown from ACC Digital Network
  16. "NCAA Football stats - College Football statistics -". Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  17. "ACC Announces First Coaches All-ACC Football Team - The Official Athletic Site of the Atlantic Coast Conference". 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  18. "Bernard Earns 2012 CFPA Trophy". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  19. "North Carolina Tar Heels RB Giovani Bernard declares for NFL draft - ESPN". 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
  21. Sessler, Marc (2013-06-23). "Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals strike contract". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  22. "Cincinnati Bengals:Giovani Bernard contract". Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  23. Conner, Matt. "Steelers vs. Bengals, Week 2: Giovani Bernard leads Cincinnati to 20-10 win over Pittsburgh". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  24. Burke, Chris (2013-10-31). "Gio Bernard delivers a candidate for best run of the season". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  25. Gray, Jeff (2013-12-08). "Colts vs. Bengals 2013 final score: Cincinnati pulls away late for 42-28 win". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  26. "San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals - January 5th, 2014 |". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  27. 1 2 "Giovani Bernard: Career Stats at". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  28. Dehner Jr., Paul (2014-08-29). "Bengals release BenJarvus Green-Ellis". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  29. Hanzus, Dan (2014-05-09). "Jeremy Hill drafted 55th by Cincinnati Bengals". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  30. Wire, SI (2014-08-06). "Cincinnati Bengals release depth chart: Giovani Bernard top running back". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  31. "Bengals vs. Ravens - Box Score - September 7, 2014 - ESPN". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  32. "Bengals running back Giovani Bernard leaves with right shoulder injury | Fox News". Fox News. 2014-10-12. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  33. Kirkendall, Josh (2014-10-26). "Giovani Bernard suffered right hip injury in the fourth quarter". Cincy Jungle. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  34. Marcum, Jason (2015-09-21). "Giovani Bernard takes over as Jeremy Hill gets benched by Bengals". Cincy Jungle. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  35. "Seattle Seahawks vs Cincinnati Bengals - Recap October 11, 2015 |". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  36. "Seattle Seahawks vs Cincinnati Bengals - Box Score October 11, 2015 |". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  37. "Bengals vs. 49ers - Box Score - December 20, 2015 - ESPN". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  38. Bien, Louis (2016-01-11). "Bengals players, fans livid after helmet-to-helmet on Giovani Bernard". Retrieved 2016-06-11.
  39. "Bengals' Giovani Bernard: Records game-high 100 receiving yards". 2016-09-18. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  40. "Bengals' Giovani Bernard: Scores first rushing touchdown of season Sunday". 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  41. "Giovani Bernard rushes for 8-yard TD". Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  42. Chris Wesseling (November 20, 2016). "Bengal's Giovanni Bernard suffers torn ACL in loss". Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  43. Marcum, Jason (November 22, 2016). "Bengals place Giovani Bernard on season-ending Injured Reserve".
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