The Falcons acquired an undrafted free agent whose story could give rise to a cultish following. Jared Bernhardt is a former quarterback that led Ferris St. to a DII national title, passing for 1,322 yards, 11 touchdowns, five interceptions and rushing for 1,421 yards and 26 touchdowns. The Bulldogs went 14-0 and defeated Valdosta State, 58-17, in the title game. However, his most impressive feats came on a different field.
Bernhardt was a star option quarterback in high school but turned down several DI scholarships to play lacrosse at Maryland. Considered by many to be one of the best players in program history, Bernhardt departed as the Terps’ career leader in both points and goals, was a member of the 2017 national championship team, and won the Tewaaraton Award — given annually to college lacrosse’s best player, similar to the Heisman Trophy. He finished that season leading the nation in goals (71) and points (99) on his way to the NCAA Finals.
Though Bernhardt likely projects as a wide receiver and special teams contributor, this wouldn’t be the first time a former lacrosse player made an impact on an NFL roster. Chris Hogan famously made the leap and caught on with the Patriots, where he played receiver and special teams on his way to two Super Bowls in three seasons. If you watched New England from 2016-18, you know Hogan played lacrosse at Penn State before football at Monmouth; TV announcers gushed over Hogan’s lacrosse career.
Bernhardt could have a similar career. Though he’ll likely just be battling for a roster spot, he is clearly an elite athlete and possesses many skills that translate to the football field. As an attackman, he had the ability to facilitate and score, which requires the speed and agility to get past defenders as well as the vision to feed the ball to his teammates — both attributes are applicable to football as well. Plenty of former collegiate quarterbacks have made a position switch at the next level and had a successful career; Julian Edelman most famously did it with the Patriots.
Falcons fans should be interested to see what Bernhardt can do because he seems like the type of player that could come out of the summer winning over the fan base in the process of making the final 53-man roster, even if it is because of his value in the third phase of the game. He’s already making plays, most notably against the Lions in the Falcons preseason opener, in which he caught the go-ahead touchdown from Desmond Ridder on fourth down.
Ridder 🤝 Bernhardt
Stealing our hearts
📺: @nflnetwork | @FOX5Atlanta
📲: Falcons App pic.twitter.com/pHriME3qKK
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 13, 2022
And again against the Jets in joint practices, catching a touchdown ball on No. 4 overall pick Sauce Gardner.
Jared Bernhardt is athletic.
That’s it. That’s the tweet. pic.twitter.com/QAWqhTdezY
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 19, 2022
Bernhardt is the exact kind of player that can go from a fan favorite in training camp to making the final 53-man roster. He embodies the personality the Falcons new regime is looking for.
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