UNC TB Bernard entering NFL draft as sophomore
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina tailback Gio Bernard is entering the NFL draft after earning All-America honors as a sophomore.
The school announced Bernard's decision Friday morning. Bernard and coach Larry Fedora are scheduled to hold a news conference in the afternoon.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound tailback led the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing, scoring, all-purpose yards and punt-return average. He was a first-team all-ACC selection the past two years, and was named a third-team All-American by The Associated Press earlier this week.
A native of Boca Raton, Fla., Bernard is draft-eligible because he has been out of high school for three seasons. He missed the 2010 season with a knee injury.
In a statement, Bernard said he planned to come back to earn his degree in spring 2014.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Chapel Hill and coming to UNC was one of the best decisions I've ever made," Bernard said.
Bernard ran for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns despite missing two games and most of another with a knee injury early in the season. He ranked 11th nationally by averaging 122.8 yards per game and led the country by averaging 16.4 yards per punt return.
He scored a league-best 19 touchdowns, including two on punt returns. That included a 74-yard return for the go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left to beat North Carolina State 43-35 in October, snapping a five-year losing streak in the rivalry.
Bernard tore his right anterior cruciate ligament on his third day of preseason practice in 2010, but returned a year later to run for a UNC freshman record 1,253 yards while becoming the first Tar Heel to run for more than 1,000 yards since 1997.