Houston Sharpstown athlete Roderick Bernard is an explosive talent who has flown under the radar in the early portions of the recruiting process. Not any more.
Bernard's film showcases a rare blend of speed an athleticism and college coaches had recently begun to take notice. On Wednesday, Bernard picked up a scholarship offer from one of the nation's biggest football programs - The University of Texas - and he committed on that same night. Consider Bernard a sleeper no more.
Texas began showing an increased interest in the 5-10, 175-pound Bernard within the last week and things progressed quickly.
"It happened all within about a week," said Sharpstown head coach Dallas Blacklock. "Texas was pretty confident after watching him on tape and talking to me. They felt like he was a guy that could fit their program pretty well. He's a dual-sport kid. He runs track and plays football, so he's really fast. He's built like Marquise Goodwin. Roderick's not an Olympic style kid but he's fast like Marquise. He's a 4.3 kid."
Texas was actually made aware of Bernard during a recruiting stop last year, when assistant Oscar Giles stopped by to check on 2013 Texas A&M commitment Reggie Chevis. At that time, Giles told Blacklock it was only a matter of time before Texas signed a player out of Sharpstown, and Blacklock told Giles to keep an eye on Bernard. Only a sophomore at the time, Bernard didn't have the type of film that he put together in the 2012 season, but Texas was aware of his speed.
Recently, coach Blacklock sent an email blast to close to 40 colleges that included a link to Bernard's junior film. As soon as Texas got the email, Giles was back in touch and things moved quickly.
"It was maybe the next week coach that coach Giles gives me a call, said he wants to come by and see me. We talked and he said our wide receivers coach really likes (Bernard)," Blacklock said. "He likes what he can do on film, we might want to offer him.
"He told me how he's similar in Marquise's build - they're both about 5-9 and 175 pounds. I looked it up and they're identical in their body make up. I can see how he can fit at Texas. We had talked, and they wanted to come by and talk to me, look at Roderick's transcripts, see what kind of character he has.
On Wednesday, Texas wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt and head coach Mack Brown stopped by the school. Having already seen what they needed to see on film, the only remaining hurdles were to check on Bernard's grade and character. He passed all tests with flying colors.
"I was totally okay with that. Roderick is the best kid in the country. He's awesome. If we had 20 more Rodericks, we'd be state champs," coach Blacklock said. "They came by, they said 'tell me about his character.' I did, and they said they want to make him a longhorn.
"I told them he'll be excited to hear that and they'll probably be hearing from him soon. He called coach Wyatt tonight and made it official. It all wrapped up pretty quickly. When the University of Texas comes knocking, you don't wait."
Bernard had picked up an offer from Houston prior to committing to Texas. Missouri had begun to show recent interest, but coach Blacklock said Texas pretty much beat everyone else to the punch.
"Because UT jumped out so fast, nobody really got a chance to see him," Blacklock said. "They kind of said, 'Let's get him now before he hits the market.' Right now, everybody is still trying to tie up loose ends with 2013 but Texas is already done with most of that so they're able to get a head start on 2014."
In making a routine stop by Sharpstown last year to check on Chevis, Texas' efforts helped land the Longhorns' seventh commitment of the 2014 class. Coach Blacklock hopes Bernard could help open similar doors for some of his program's underclassmen if they're willing to put in the work.
"All of this is great because it promotes Roderick, but at the same time, it gives our program some exposure. College coaches will still come in even though Roderick's going to Texas," Blacklock said. "Somebody will come by and notice our young kids, just like coach Giles did when he came to see Reggie last year."
Bernard, who is being recruited as a receiver by Texas, caught 34 passes for 790 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior.