Micah Bernard establishing himself as Utes feature back


Utah Utes running back Micah Bernard (2) runs during an NCAA football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Tyler Tate)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Nothing has been made official, but it sure looks like Micah Bernard has become Utah’s top running back.

Coming off a 12-carry, 146-yard, one-touchdown performance against BYU, Bernard appears to have taken over as the lead back for the Utes ground game. But if he has, Bernard doesn’t know it yet.

“No indication at all,” Bernard said. “It’s up to the coaches. I’m just going to continue to play the game. We’ve got a good group of guys and we’re just going to keep working hard.”

Bernard had a breakout game against the Cougars on Saturday, averaging 12.2 yards per carry, and running with violence.

“I’ve been wanting to get back to my old self,” Bernard said. “I felt like I’m getting there. I’ve still got a long way to go, so I’ve just go to keep it up.”

Bernard has come a long way since arriving at Utah in 2019 as a 17-year old freshman. After a redshirt year, Bernard rushed for 76 yards on 15 carries in an abbreviated 2020 season.

Bernard may have been an afterthought to many Utes fans this season after Chris Curry transferred from LSU, T.J. Pledger from Oklahoma, and Tavion Thomas from Cincinnati (via a junior college). But through two games, Bernard has been Utah’s most productive running back.

“I’m incredibly proud of Micah,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “He’s grown up right before our eyes. When he got here, he was a very young senior in high school. He has matured developed a toughness and consistency about him that is admirable. Now he’s reaping those rewards.”

“It was just grown men, you know?” Bernard said about his freshman season. “I was still 17, just a little child coming out of high school. I was young in high school too. It was just a lot of grown men. I was seeing a lot of people 24, 25, and it was a different feeling.”

With Thomas continuing to have fumble problems and Curry and Pledger struggling to find playing time, Bernard appears to be in line for the majority of carries going forward. He says he is only going to improve as the year goes on.

“I went back and watched the film last year, and I have gotten so much better,” Bernard said. “I can literally see that on film that I’ve changed from one year to another. I can only get better.”

Attending high school just 20 minutes from where Utah will play San Diego State this Saturday, at Dignity Healthy Sports Park in Carson, California, Bernard is going to have plenty of family and friends at the game Saturday against the Aztecs.

“I’ve got a lot of family coming,” said Bernard, who went to Gahr High School in Cerritos. “So, I’ve got to put on for them. My family called all last week, and we just chopped it up about the game. But it’s going to be cool to have them in town and ball out in front of them.”

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