After finishing Maryland lacrosse career, Jared Bernhardt to pursue football eligibility

Attackman Jared Bernhardt winds up for a shot in Maryland men's lacrosse's 14-13 overtime win over Towson in the NCAA tournament on May 12, 2019. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

Maryland men’s lacrosse attackman Jared Bernhardt will pursue an opportunity to play college football as a graduate transfer, once he completes his undergraduate career with the Terps after the coming spring season.

“After numerous conversations with Jared over the years, I knew playing college football was always a dream of his,” coach John Tillman said in a press release. “We are supporting him during this process to help him make the best decision for his future after finishing his collegiate lacrosse career.”

Bernhardt played as a triple-option quarterback at Lake Brantley High School in Florida, where he accounted for over 4,000 all-purpose yards and more than 30 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons.

When deliberating over his college prospects, Bernhardt considered an opportunity to play option quarterback at Navy before committing to Maryland for lacrosse, where both of his older brothers also played.

Over the summer, Bernhardt’s father, Jim, died at the age of 63. Jim Bernhardt was involved with football as a special assistant while now-Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien was at Penn State, and was again with O’Brien as the director of football research for the Texans from 2014 to 2017.

“Growing up I’ve always had a passion for the game of football, and I was incredibly blessed to have my father in my life to nurture that love of the game,” Bernhardt said in a release. “I want to honor his legacy and live out my dream of playing college football.”

[Read more: Resilience carried Maryland men’s lacrosse so far — but not far enough]

Per NCAA rules, Bernhardt will appear in the transfer portal as a men’s lacrosse player. In his three seasons in College Park, Bernhardt has climbed to 11th in program history in goals with 111, and 20th overall in points with 162.

The decision to pursue a graduate year in a different sport isn’t unprecedented. Just last year, Loyola lacrosse star Pat Spencer, who went on to win the Tewaaraton award as the nation’s best player, explored his transfer options for a graduate season for men’s basketball before landing at Northwestern.

If given the opportunity, Bernhardt does have the right to stay a Terp and play for Maryland football. As he explores his options and will take visits, the senior attackman remains honed in on the final season of his college lacrosse career.

“I’m hoping to get the necessary information to make an informed, but timely decision on my future playing prospects,” Bernhardt said in a release. “I’m 100 percent focused on my senior year of lacrosse at Maryland and can’t wait to get back to work with my teammates for the upcoming season.”

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