College lacrosse occasionally finds itself a superstar. Someone who scores goals with almost unnatural ease and who terrorizes defenses like a lion among a pack of wildebeest. Jared Bernhardt falls into that category. The Maryland Terrapins attackman set a host of records during 2021 as a fifth-year senior.
Bernhardt was phenomenal for the Terrapins in 2021, and it surprised nobody when he won the Tewaaraton Award. The senior from Longwood, Florida, became only the second Tweaaraton winner in the Terrapins' history, joining 2017 winner Matt Rambo in an exclusive club.
There was not one single occasion during the 16 game season that Bernhardt did not score at least two goals. He was the hot favorite to score with the online betting sites offering college sports whenever he took to the field.
An Incredible Scoring Season
He started relatively slowly with two goals and two assists in the 20-9 victory over the Michigan Wolverines on the season's opening day. Bernhardt got increasingly better as the Terrapins ticked off games from their schedule, and he more than hit his stride by the time the Wolverines were back in town.
Maryland ran out 16-8 winners against Michigan on May 6, and Bernhardt was unplayable; nobody could get near him or even think about stopping the attackman. Bernhardt had 12 shots, scored eight goals, and had two assists for a total of 10 points. Those were his season-best figures, except for the 13 shots against the Virginia Cavaliers on Game 16 of 16.
Bernhardt broke several records in what was his final season with the Terrapins. His tally of 99 points is the most single-season points in the program's history. Furthermore, his career total of 290 points makes Bernhardt the most prolific scorer in Maryland's long and illustrious history.
Scoring an incredible 71 goals in 16 games in 2021 pushed Bernhardt's overall record to 4.44 goals per game in a season, another Terrapins record. The 99 points he bagged in those same 16 games gave him an average of 6.19 points per game. Only Bob Boneillo (6.58) managed a higher average, doing so in 1979.
Bernhardt was tipped to be the overall number one pick in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) 2021 draft with his incredible scoring record. Someone with Barnhardt's apparent ability would shine in the PLL, surely?
However, he was not drafted as the number one. He was not even in Round 1 nor Round 2. In fact, Bernhardt was the third pick of Round 3, the 19th pick overall! Chaos secured his services, but why did he not go far earlier?
Lacrosse’s Loss Is Football’s Gain
In late April, a Maryland spokesperson confirmed Bernhardt planned to turn his back on lacrosse and pursue a college football career in the fall. He planned to join the DII power Ferris State Bulldogs. Indeed, Bernhardt, a talented quarterback, initially planned to join the Bulldogs in 2020, but the Division II football season fell foul to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact Bernhardt wants to play football meant most PLL teams were not prepared to sacrifice their early-round picks on someone whose heart was no longer with lacrosse or who may jump ship and play football instead.
Bernhardt still plans to join Ferris State even though he has never visited it, and the Bulldogs are not one of the Big Ten, but Bernhardt likes how coach Tony Annese operates. Furthermore, he believes the Bulldogs play a style of football that suits him.
Chaos has taken a punt on drafting Bernhardt, and they hold his lacrosse rights for the next two years. Should football not work out for Bernhardt, Chaos could have pulled off one of the drafts of the century. It is all ifs and buts right now, but Chaos fans will have their fingers crossed for a Bernhardt change of heart.