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May 4, 2013

Exit Interview: Harold Bernard (Part One)

Although he played behind several future and current NFL players, Arizona defensive back Harold Bernard found ways to make an impact on the Stanford football program. Bernard's most productive season as 2011, when he made a career-high 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He shifted between cornerback and safety over the course of his career, providing depth where needed. He was also a special teams standout for the Cardinal.

This season, with the emergence of Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards and a reliable two-deep at cornerback, Bernard's playing time was limited, but a standout performance at the Cardinal's Pro Day in March opened eyes. In addition to posting the day's best 40-yard dash times (averaging 4.53 seconds, according to the official Stanford release), Bernard had a 38.5 inch vertical leap. He also broad-jumped 9-11 and did the 3-cone drill in 6.90 seconds.

Cardinal Sports Report recently spoke to Bernard about his Stanford career and professional football aspirations. The first part of our interview focuses on Bernard's personal journey through Stanford football. The second centers on Bernard's take on the Cardinal program as a whole.

Cardinal Sports Report: Where are you academically? Are you doing a Masters, co-term? Where does everything stand on the academic track?

Harold Bernard: I'm currently doing a double major. So I'll finish up in June when we graduate with a major in Aociology as well as a major in STS, which is Science, Technology and Society.

CSR: Why did you decide to go the double-major route?

HB: I just looked at the possibility of what I needed to do to finish both majors and kind of looked at what classes I've already taken and my interests. I had already done sociology and then just looking at what I've lacked out of all the classes I've taken, STS fit pretty well with what I wanted to do. That's how I went about choosing STS as my second major.

CSR: I know you participated in Stanford's Pro Day in March and did quite well. Did you feel that was your time to kind of make your case?

HB: Yeah, that was definitely the moment when I needed to show scouts and everything that I could play. Because throughout my years at Stanford, my four years of playing, I haven't had that much film that they could see to show that I could be consistent playing at the level of the NFL, so I felt like at the Pro Day was when I needed to show out and I showed that I'm strong enough, fast enough, quick enough. We didn't have that many football-specific drills where I could show that I'm versatile in my position, cornerback, safety, whatever it takes, nickel, but I feel like I did well in the other things and now I'm just hoping that a team will take a chance on me and I can show on the football field what I can do.

CSR: What is the next step for you football-wise?

HB: As of now I'm still trying to get picked up by a team. I didn't get drafted. I didn't get picked up in like the first wave of free agency. So as of now, currently, myself and my agent are trying to work out a tryout for me. There are mini camps this weekend as well as next weekend and they're still revolving through players even before that and after that, so we're in contact with a couple of teams. I've gotten a couple of 'no's', I've gotten some 'maybe's', like 'we'll contact you,' but I'm just pretty much staying positive and waiting to hear when I can have my time to prove that I can play and just show that I can play in the NFL.

CSR: What has this last week of the draft and post-draft process been like for you?

HB: It's been a little stressful, I'm not going to lie. But I'm staying positive. Through the draft I was just watching the draft and then talking to my agent hoping I could get a free agency deal. And then right after the draft when everybody was getting picked up, it was rough, seeing all of your friends, seeing everybody that you played with get picked up. I wasn't picked up, but I just had to stay positive because that's all I can do. You can only control what you can control. You can't control what you can't. So I've just been working out and staying ready just in case my time comes, so I'm just pretty much waiting for that time and staying ready.

CSR: What type of feedback did you get from pro teams after the Pro Day workout?

HB: At that time I didn't have an agent so it was mainly like word of mouth or directly after the Pro Day, I heard a couple of teams say that I did well and I was explosive. Some scouts talked to some of my coaches and they said that I looked good and that they would keep looking at me. But it's hard when you don't have film when there are hundreds of people around that country with plenty of film that they can look at. I didn't run like a 4.2, kind of explosive things where they have to be like man, this kid is amazing kind of thing to overturn those facts without my having as much film. I knew I was in a climb to get a shot, but that's what I was willing to do and I'm trying to do it now.

CSR: If it turns out that football doesn't work out for you, what would the plan be if you weren't able to continue your football career?

HB: As of now I'm thinking about either sales or marketing or staying around San Francisco or the Bay Area. I've done a couple different interviews with different companies. I've interviewed with Oracle and LinkedIn, some different places. That's an option. But I really am focused on this football thing. I really believe that I can do this and I have what it takes and I'm willing to go as far as I can go with it. Just while I'm young. I feel like I can get a job or go into the workforce whenever, but like the football shot only comes now. This is the only time I'll be able to do it. So whether I try to go, I'm not really sure I'm going to do this, but whether I try to go the route of the Canadian Football League if a tryout doesn't work with the NFL, I might try that to do it, because I still think I want to prove… I didn't really do it in college, but I want to prove I can play and I'm one of the better players.

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