Lacrosse star to the NFL: an unlikely journey

Kaylee Donnelly, Contributing Writer

With the start of the NFL season in full swing, an unlikely player has arisen through the excitement of the first few games and fantasy football drafts. 

Jared Bernhardt, a rookie from the University of Maryland, has made his way into the NFL by taking a rather strange path.

Bernhardt’s career at Maryland had almost nothing to do with football. A shining lacrosse star, he played all four of his years with the Terrapins, winning a championship title in 2017 as a freshman and then earning the Tewaaraton Award in 2021 during his final year. As the nation’s best collegiate lacrosse player essentially, Bernhardt had earned the lacrosse equivalent of a Heisman trophy. 

His final season in Maryland was not the end of his athletic career, however. Bernhardt transferred to Ferris State for his graduate year, playing quarterback for the Division II school’s football team. Even more impressively, the first year collegiate quarterback was able to lead the team to an undefeated season and national title. 

He wasn’t an amateur to the sport of football, but it was his first collegiate level battle and first time on the field officially since high school. Bernhardt played both lacrosse and football throughout high school, totaling 236 goals while playing lacrosse and 30 touchdowns as a quarterback. Despite his success in high school football, the lacrosse opportunities he was offered ultimately beat out his football ones, leading him onto his career at the University of Maryland. 

Bernhardt entered the 2022 NFL draft after his time at Ferris State but was converted into a wide receiver. Despite putting up decent stats, he went undrafted. It wasn’t until the Atlanta Falcons, in need of wide receivers, picked up Bernhardt so he could get a chance to show what he could do.

It was at preseason camp that Bernhardt was able to capitalize on this chance, showing surprisingly well to the Falcons staff. It was in the final preseason game that Bernhardt scored the winning touchdown, securing his spot on the Atlanta Falcons. This lacrosse star turned quarterback turned wide receiver beat several odds, making his way into the pros over some long trained personnel. 

While it’s uncertain at the moment whether Bernhardt will make the lineup in the regular season, it’s certainly an interesting story and an impressive showing of athleticism. One will have to watch the Falcons lineup as the team heads into regular season play and see if Bernhardt can make an impact on the field. 

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