The Atlanta Falcons unveiled their initial 53-man roster for the 2022 season and one of the players was Jared Bernhardt — a guy with a terrific Division I college athletics resume, but not in football. The wide receiver had never actually played that position, instead, he is a former lacrosse star.
Bernhardt was on the football and lacrosse teams in high school, but he chose to pursue lacrosse in college. He got to Maryland as the No. 3 overall recruit in his class, and he certainly lived up to the expectations. The four-time All-American earned the 2021 Tewaaraton Award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse. He also earned the 2021 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honor.
After that successful season, he had a year of eligibility left due to the COVID-19 pandemic so he decided to transfer to Ferris State, a Division II school, to play quarterback. He had not competed in football since 2016, but earned the starting spot. Despite not playing football in a while, Bernhardt threw fore 11 touchdowns and 1,322 yards, completing more than 70 percent of his throws. He also rushed for 26 touchdowns and 1,421 yards on 159 attempts. Bernhardt was only at Ferris State for a year, but he left his mark as he led the team to a perfect 14-0 record and the program’s first ever national championship.
Too easy. So he had to challenge himself even more. Bernhardt, undrafted in the 2022 NFL Draft, turned heads at the Falcons camp this summer.
He helped the Falcons to a 27-23 victory in their preseason opener against the Detroit Lions with the game-winning catch on a pass from rookie quarterback Desmond Rider with just 90 seconds remaining in the game. Through the three preseason games, Bernhardt registered five catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcons finished the 2021 season with a 7-10 record during Arthur Smith’s first year as the helm. Perhaps Bernhardt will continue his winning streak and be the extra push that the Falcons need this upcoming season.