Bengals Sign Gio Bernard to Three-Year Extension

Former UNC running back Giovani Bernard–perhaps best known in Chapel Hill for his game-winning punt return against NC State in 2012–has quietly put together three straight seasons with over 1,000 total yards for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.

Not wanting to lose out on that production, the Bengals went ahead and inked Bernard to a three-year, $15.5 million extension on Wednesday which runs through 2019.

His contract was previously set to expire following the 2016 season.

Drafted 37th overall by Cincinnati in the 2013 NFL Draft, the 5-foot-9 Bernard has shown flashes of brilliance at the professional level. He has primarily been used over the past two seasons as the “speed” back in a rotation system with Jeremy Hill–who has a more powerful running style.

Each of Gio Bernard's two seasons at UNC ranked among the top eight on the school's single-season rushing list. (Getty Images)

Each of Gio Bernard’s two seasons at UNC ranked among the top eight on the school’s single-season rushing list. (Getty Images)

Bernard has run for 2,105 yards and 12 touchdowns thus far in his pro career. He’s also made a name for himself as a great pass-catcher out of the backfield–hauling in 148 passes for 1,335 yards and five scores.

Even though a concussion forced him out of the Bengals’ playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last January, it’s reasonable to suggest his durability has been his best attribute at the pro level.

In three full seasons, Bernard has missed just three games–an incredible statistic considering the punishment NFL running backs typically endure each week.

Although he spent just two seasons playing for the Tar Heels following his redshirt year, the native of Davie, Florida ran for over 1,200 yards in both campaigns.

His 1,253 rushing yards in 2011 ranks fourth in program history for a single season behind only Don McCauley (1,720 in 1970), Mike Voight (1,407 in 1976) and Elijah Hood (1,463 in 2015).

On top of that, he also ranks eighth on the list thanks to a 1,228-yard output in 2012.

By any measurement, though, Bernard is one of the best running backs to ever come through the UNC football program.

Wednesday’s news is just further proof that he’s been able to translate much of that success to the next level–something that’s much easier said than done.

Go Gio, Go! Tar Heel Star Continues to ‘Wow’ in NFL

Photo courtesy of Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Photo courtesy of Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports


A year ago, UNC running back Giovani Bernard delivered one of the most memorable Tar Heel football moments in recent history, maybe ever.

Yes, his electric punt return for a touchdown to push Carolina past NC State was a sight to behold. All who witnessed the events will tuck the memory away in one of their most cherished recollections, unless of course, you are a State fan.

But what is Gio authoring as an encore on this anniversary of  ‘ The Return ‘ ?  Well, he’s doing what Gio knows how to do best-find the end zone with cannonball-like power and athleticism.

Oh how Tar Heel nation envies the Cincinnati Bengals’ situation. Gio is now theirs. Just think if he had returned to don a Carolina blue uniform this season? Think things may have turned out a bit differently? But alas, Gio is in orange these days.

But everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to watch Gio’s magic Thursday night!

Click here and enjoy!

Bernard Scores Two Touchdowns In Bengals 20-10 Win

CINCINNATI – NFL rookie and former Tar Heel standout, Giovani Bernard found the goal line twice Monday night in his Cincinnati Bengals’ 20-10 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bernard only touched the ball nine times, but made the most of those carries. In his eight rushes, he carried the ball 38 yards, including a seven-yard score. He also saw one pass from Andy Dalton that he carried 27 yards that broke the 10-10 tie and gave the Bengals the lead they never relinquished.

Bernard was even featured on the home page of ESPN with the caption “Giovani Bernard and the Bengals made the Steelers look old, slow and in decline.”

Gio and the Bengals are 1-1 this season with a 24-21 loss to Chicago week 1. Next up, Cincinnati travels to Green Bay on Sunday for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff against the Packers.

Gio Shining In NFL Pre-Debut

Photo courtesy of Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI – Tar Heel fans already knew about the magic of running back Giovani Bernard. But now, the rest of the nation is quickly beginning to discover his talents on the football field.

Now a Cincinnati Bengals running back, Bernard is already turning heads in his rookie NFL preseason. The 5-foot, 10-inch, 205 pounder has punched in two scores for touchdowns already in the first couple games for his new team.

In his latest performance, Bernard ran for more than five yards per carry. That is quite an impressive feat for someone who is supposed to just be getting his feet wet at the next level.

But Bernard says he’s not satisfied. He told reporters that he is a perfectionist and wants to always continue to improve his play.

One thing is for sure; Bengals fans and Tar Heel fans alike will be thrilled with the initial success of the spark plug runner who currently sits behind number-one running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.