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April 26, 2013

Bernard, Williams selected Friday

Giovani Bernard and Brennan Williams became the third and fourth former Tar Heels to get taken in this year's NFL Draft, as each were selected Friday evening.

Bernard was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth pick in the second round (37th overall) of this year's Draft.

North Carolina has produced three of the first 37 picks in this year's draft, which is the most for the Tar Heels since 1998.

"Gio is a tremendous talent who is a terrific person off the field," said head coach Larry Fedora. "He is an outstanding playmaker who did everything he could to help our team win."

"Playing in our offense, he was able to showcase his skills as a versatile running back, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and catching the ball out of the backfield."

Bernard was the first running back picked in the draft.

It is the first time Carolina has had the first running back taken in the draft. The last time a Tar Heel running back was picked in the second round of the draft was in 1993 when Natrone Means was taken by the San Diego Chargers.

A native of Davie, Fla., Bernard had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2011 and 2012.

He elected to forego his final two years of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft following his sophomore season. In 2012, he was the runner-up for ACC Player of the Year and named third-team AP All-America at running back.

Bernard was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award in 2012. He ranked second in the nation in punt return average, fourth in all-purpose yards, fifth in scoring and 11th in rushing. He scored 19 touchdowns in 10 games and had 33 touchdowns in 23 collegiate games.

His 19 touchdowns in 2012 were the second-most in single-season school history, matching Mike Voight (1976) and Kelvin Bryant (1981). He finished just two touchdowns shy of Don McCauley's single-season record of 21 set in 1970.

As a senior, Bernard rushed 184 times for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns, had 47 receptions for 490 yards and five touchdowns, and 16 punt returns for 263 yards and two touchdowns . He set a UNC single-season record with 198.1 all-purpose yards per game.

Williams was selected by the Houston Texans with the 27th pick in the third round (89th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft.

"I'm excited for Brennan and we're proud of his accomplishments," added Fedora. "He's a good kid who has the size, strength and mobility to be a very good player at the next level."

Combined with the selection of Jonathan Cooper in the first round, this is the first time since 1985 that two Tar Heel offensive linemen have been picked in the same year of the NFL Draft.

A native of West Roxbury, Mass., Williams earned honorable mention All-ACC accolades for his play in 2012 despite missing the final four games with shoulder surgery.

In Carolina's win over Virginia Tech, Williams had a career-high 23 knockdown blocks to help the Tar Heels rush for 339 yards.

Williams' father, Brent, played in the NFL from 1986-93 with New England, Seattle and the New York Jets.






 

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