Well, St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) running back Gio Bernard is listed at 5-9. But according to Bernard that's not true. "I'm five-eight and a half right now," he said.
That's the kind of young man he is; honest, straightforward and intelligent. He might tell you that those are basic requirements to just attend Aquinas, a school renowned for its academics as much as it is its athletics.
So, when he says he has over 20 offers, I think it would be safe to say to believe him. And boy, he's got some offers: Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Florida State, Alabama, Arkansas and Oregon State, just to name a few. And yes, he's got an offer from Nebraska.
And believe it or not, typical to what he's done with every other school which has offered him, he wants to call and say "thanks." But he doesn't know how. "I don't have their number, and I wanted to call them and tell them that I appreciated them offering me, and I'd like to find out a little bit more," he said. "I am trying not to think too much about recruiting right now, but you always want to know more about the schools that offer you."
Well, it's pretty certain they know plenty about him. Aside from the offer indicating that, Bernard had a nice body of work last season as he rushed for 1,578 yards, scoring 18 times. At his size you can figure out how he did it.
Nowadays it's almost natural for people to look at his height and wonder if he could even handle the rigors of the Football Bowl Subdivision. But Bernard didn't have to have the 20-plus offers to figure for himself that he could. "It's easy for me to hide behind lineman and pick my way through the line. And I am pretty confident once I get into the open-field," he said. "Because I am already pretty low to the ground, I have good balance and it's not easy to get a big hit on me. And even if you do, I can keep my balance a lot of the time."
Perhaps the best known scat-back in the history of scat-backs was former Detroit Lion Barry Sanders. Also low to the ground, but possessing incomprehensibly large thighs, Sanders broke ankles like none before him or since and made fans out of those who couldn't care less about the Lions.
Bernard won't profess to say that he has Sanders' abilities, but physically he feels that the two aren't far apart, and for himself he has tried to avoid one of Sanders' minor shortcomings. "I like to get up-field, and I know he liked to go east and west a lot," he said with a chuckle. "He made it look good though. He could do some things."
The expectations on Bernard this year are that he will do some things, even more than last year, which is just what he wants to do. But not because he wants to show everyone else what he can do, but that his team, a team which puts out a slew of top-tier college football talent every single year, can keep doing what they have been even with some players no longer in the fold. "That's kind of how it is around here all the time. People look at all those people we lost, and they say we are going to be down, we aren't going to be that good and it's going to be hard to replace who we lost," Bernard said. "I guess I want us to prove as a team that we aren't going to lose a step. I think we are going to be good."
I don't know if recruiting rankings mean much in regard to potential record, but if they do Bernard's goals will mostly likely pan out, Aquinas boasting close to a dozen legit FBS candidates and of those, four players ranked in the top 10 at their respective position.
That means a lot of recruiting takes place down there, meaning a lot of schools come from around the country in hopes of pulling just one kid, maybe more, out of the Sunshine State. That's another thing Bernard says he isn't looking to disprove, because his brother already has – and that's the notion that all the best Florida prep players stay in Florida. "My brother went to Oregon State, so that just shows you that we don't care and our parents don't care where we go. It's about our future, where we fit in best and where we feel we'll get a good education," Bernard said of Yvenson who led the Beavers in rushing in 2007 with 1,276 yards. "It depends on how much I am feeling what they have."
That feeling consists of just about everything outside of winning, he said, the criteria being more about the "who" than the "what" and "how much." "Do I get along with the coaches? Do I feel at home on their campus? Do I think I will fit in with the players? That's a lot more important to me than how many games they won last year," he said. "Not every team that wins all the time is going to be perfect, and not every team which might be struggling to win, is going to be that bad. It's just a matter of how you feel there."
Back to Nebraska Bernard obviously has no sense of any of that, only knowing some basics about the Huskers with Spring Evaluation seemingly just getting down that part of the country from Husker land. But there may be a point where he'll get an opportunity to know them a little more. "I know James (White) is going to go around checking these places out, so I can hopefully give them a little gas money to take me along and I can check them out, too," he said of his teammate and fellow running back who just happens to be ranked No. 7 at the position by Scout. "I don't know where he's going, but he's got a lot offers, too. So, we'll just have to see."
As for a time frame, camps, other visits, perhaps some official during the season, Bernard said he had no idea. Again, he may be trying to find out more about these schools, but he's not trying to figure the whole recruiting process out. There's a time and place for that, and he'll hit recruiting when it seems appropriate to do so. "There's a lot to figure out, and I can't say I have really even begun. I suppose that will really start throughout the Summer," he said.