Falcons Ink Deal with Top College Lacrosse Player in the Nation
The Atlanta Falcons have signed Jared Bernhardt, the winner of the 2021 Tewaaraton Award and the second leading scorer in University of Maryland lacrosse history, as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft. Bernhardt will be utilized as a wide receiver/kick returner if he makes the squad.
Bernhardt played lacrosse at Maryland for five seasons (including the abbreviated 2020 season) and recorded 202 goals and 88 assists for a total 290 points. He holds the record for the most goals in Terrapin history by a large margin. The record was previously held by Matt Rambo at 155 goals. Bernhardt's 290 total points are second in school history to Logan Wisnauskas's 302 and counting from 2018 to present.
For his efforts in 2021, Bernhardt earned the Tewaaraton Award. The Tewaaraton Award is given each year to the most outstanding college lacrosse player and is the lacrosse equivalent of football's Heisman Trophy. Tewaaraton is the Mohawk word for the game that modern lacrosse originates from.
In addition to his college lacrosse efforts, Bernhardt has a national championship in football under his belt. Bernhardt transferred to Ferris State University as a graduate transfer in the summer of 2021 and became the team's starting quarterback.
His passing statistics were lack luster as he posted 70.7% completion rate, just 1,322 yards, 11 touch downs, and 5 interceptions. However, he excelled as a running quarterback. On 159 rushes he put up 1,421 yards and 26 touchdowns.
His own FCS play is not Bernhardt's only connection to football. His late father, Jim Bernhardt, served as the director of football research under Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien when he was the Houston Texans head coach. Jim Bernhardt was in that role from 2014-2017, as well as being O'Brien's special assistant to the head coach and director of player development during his stint at Penn State.
It will be interesting to see how Falcons head coach Arthur Smith utilizes Bernhardt if he makes the team. Smith has said in the past that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is worth emulating, and speedy lacrosse players playing wide receiver is certainly something Belichick is known for.