“As of right now, I’m planning on going to Ferris State University to play football in the fall [for] Coach [Tony] Annese,” Bernhardt said. “It’s about 45 minutes outside of Grand Rapids in Michigan.”
The Bulldogs went 12-1 last fall and captured the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title for the second consecutive year. They advanced to the NCAA tournament semifinals before falling, 28-14, to West Florida on Dec. 14.
Annese said Monday afternoon that he heard about Bernhardt after Bernhardt emailed offensive coordinator and son Steve Annese in October.
“He’s just a multidimensional athlete, and my philosophy has always been that if you’re an athlete, you can perform on the football field,” Tony Annese said. “Beyond that, I looked at his high school film and thought, ‘My goodness gracious, this kid is a playmaker.’ So he’s an elite athlete who was obviously successful there at Maryland in lacrosse. So immediately when we got an email from him inquiring about any interest we might have and his desire to play football, we got excited and pursued him.”
Bernhardt, who was not made available Monday to comment, finished a coronavirus-shortened season with 29 points on 20 goals and nine assists for the Terps (5-1). He was on pace for 43 goals in the regular season, which would have given him 154 for his career. That would be just one goal off Matt Rambo’s program record of 155.
In 2019, Bernhardt became only the third player in school history to score 50 goals in a season with 51 en route to being named a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse’s version of the Heisman Trophy.
Bernhardt was a two-sport star at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Florida, running the triple option as a quarterback and surpassing 400 career points as a midfielder. As a senior, he rushed for 1,457 yards and 12 touchdowns and passed for 751 yards and six scores in 11 games, leading a Patriots offense that averaged 486 yards per game.
“I’ve always had the passion for football,” Bernhardt told the NCAA. “I’ve always loved it. It never really went away, but being able to have the opportunity that I didn’t think I would have, to be able to maybe go play somewhere, I never really thought about it. I just played. And then when the opportunity came, it was kind of a very surreal feeling. Obviously choosing lacrosse, it’s definitely been in the back of my mind during my years at Maryland.”