Francis Bernard had no idea what his next step in life would be.
The NFL draft had just concluded and Bernard's phone didn't rung, signaling that he wasn't taken and he had to figure out his next step. That next step needed to provide for himself, his wife Lexi and their newborn baby boy Lennox.
Then Bernard's phone rang — and on the other end was the Dallas Cowboys. They were calling to let Bernard know they wanted to sign him as an undrafted prospect and give him a chance to make the team for the upcoming season.
Now into fall camp and Bernard is quickly establishing himself as a playmaking linebacker — and one of the stars of the camp according to star linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
"Francis Bernard. I think he’s really taken off,” Vander Esch told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Wednesday when asked who some of the breakout stars in camp were. “He’s a smart kid. He plays fast and obviously he’s made plays. He’s gotten an interception in the last two padded practices so I think he’s making a name for himself. And I think he’s gonna be awesome for our room. Pumped to have him with us. Like I said, he’s smart. He plays fast. He’s instinctual. He’s going to be huge on special teams for us and when he finds his time on the field, he’s going to do just fine.”
At this point, and with the season expected to get underway next week, it would now come as a shock if Bernard didn't make the 53-man roster after his training camp performances.
According to Gehlken, Bernard just needs to proves his worth on special teams to secure his spot — and that should be no issue. Albeit a little undersized entering the league, the two things Bernard didn't lack was tenacity and athleticism, skills needed to thrive in special teams.
On back-to-back days last week, Bernard recorded interceptions, showcasing that playmaking ability. He's also been revered for his ability to master the playbook and direct certain parts of the defense when he's been in asked to lead.
If he can somehow find his way to the 53-man roster, it would culminate the final part of what has been a tumultuous journey on the gridiron.
Before emerging as a potential NFL-caliber linebacker, Bernard was a two-way star at Herriman High School. He received a scholarship from BYU but before becoming a Cougar, Bernard served his two-year, LDS mission in Atlanta.
While at BYU, Bernard found success on the other side of the ball as a running back — totaling 52 carries for 334 yards (6.4 ypc) and seven touchdowns on the ground and 17 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman.
For whatever reason, Bernard was moved to the other side of the ball the following season, where he found success at the linebacker after totaling 80 tackles (5.5 for loss) two sacks, three interceptions and three pass breakups.
But he found trouble towards the end of the year, which derailed his career as a Cougar and forced him to look for a new home elsewhere — where he ultimately settled on traveling 45 minutes north to become a Ute.
He played in 12 games as a junior before earning the starting role as a senior — where he amassed 85 tackles (7.5 for loss) and two interceptions and was named to all-Pac-12 first team.
Want to share opinions or ask questions? We want to hear them! Making a profile is free and it only takes ~1 minute to set up. Also, be sure to like us on social media for future coverage: