Former Ute Francis Bernard making an impression with the Cowboys
When the final name of the 2020 NFL draft was called, former Utah linebacker Francis Bernard was left without a team.
But then it didn't take long for his phone to ring — and that's when Bernard knew that he'd been given all he'd ever wanted; a chance.
The Dallas Cowboys were on the phone calling, letting 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.”
On back-to-back days earlier in the 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.
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.
And now he finds himself fighting for a spot in the NFL.
When the Cowboys open the season on Sept. 13 for Sunday Night Football against the Los Angeles Rams, it wouldn't be shocking to see Bernard on the sidelines.
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