Maryland lacrosse star Jared Bernhardt makes Falcons’ 53-man roster as wide receiver

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Jared Bernhardt, who joined Atlanta as an undrafted free agent this offseason, has officially made the Falcons’ 53-man roster, surviving Tuesday’s final cuts, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Before he took up football, Bernhardt was a lacrosse star at the University of Maryland, where he won a national title, set numerous school records and was awarded the 2021 Tewaaraton Trophy, given annually to America’s top college player.

To prepare for the NFL, Bernhardt spent a graduate year at Ferris State, leading the Bulldogs to a Division II national championship as a triple-option quarterback, the same position he played in high school. Bernhardt received mild interest leading up to April’s NFL Draft, with the Broncos intrigued enough to host him for a top-30 visit.

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Appearing as a wide receiver, the 24-year-old cemented his Falcons roster spot with a strong performance this summer, catching five of seven targets for 102 yards and a touchdown in preseason games against the Jets, Lions and Jaguars. He also starred on special teams, returning two kicks for 46 yards along with two punts for an additional eight yards.

Bernhardt will likely be employed as a gadget player, a position-less hybrid comparable to Saints dual threat Taysom Hill. Though not very often, the NFL has pulled from the lacrosse ranks before, with former Bills and Patriots receiver Chris Hogan cited as the most recent example. Given his relative inexperience, it’s anyone’s guess the kind of impact, if any, Bernhardt will have in his first NFL season, though making the team over veterans Geronimo Allison and Auden Tate—not to mention sixth-round pick Frank Darby—is an accomplishment in itself.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images