SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – While Francis Bernard has done plenty of hitting in his football, it really hasn’t hit him yet that his life is about to change.
“When I think about it, I kind of get anxious, and I’m like, dang, this is all happening so fast,” said Bernard, the former Utah linebacker who is expected to be taken in the NFL Draft in just over two weeks. “But when it does hit me, I think about how I can support my family, and help my son have an easier life than I did growing up. So yeah, it’s going to be awesome.”
Bernard has had to overcome a checkered past. The low point came in October of 2017 when he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, getting a season-long suspension from BYU. NFL teams have asked him about his past, but Bernard tells them that going through adversity has only made him stronger and more mature.
“Talking to them about the things that I’ve gone through, and showing them that I’m the guy who if you throw something new at me, I’m going to be able to get through it, learn and continue on,” said Bernard, who earned first team All-Pac-12 honors as a senior at Utah. “Nothing is going to surprise me from here out until I’m done with football. That’s just how I take life on, and that’s how I take every aspect of my life on.”
NFL teams love Bernard’s motor and physicality, but most of all, it is his knowledge of the game that has him projected to go in the mid to late rounds.
“The biggest thing that sets me apart from a lot of the other prospects is they see that I’m a smart football player,” said Bernard, who had 85 tackles for the Utes last season. “When I was talking to them at the NFL combine, I got a lot of great feedback from the teams saying that we know that you understand football and get that just from talking to you. So, just keep that up and things are going to be good for you.”
While he is able to work out on his own during the coronavirus pandemic, Bernard is spending most of his time with his wife and 1 1/2 year old son.
“I’m trying to teach my kid something new,” Bernard said. “We just bought him a new basketball hoop. So, I’m just trying to get him good. I’m trying to start him early. He’s only 18 months, but I’m trying to start him early.”