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Five things to know about Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard, the Bills' third-round pick

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Sugar Bowl Football

Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard celebrates winning the most valuable player at the Sugar Bowl.

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The Buffalo Bills selected Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard with the No. 89 overall pick in the third round of the NFL draft on Friday night. Here are five things to know about Bernard.

1. He's known for his leadership. Bernard was a team captain in 2021 and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. The first line on his scouting report on reads "scouts rave about his leadership and character." It also notes that he has a "never-quit attitude despite adversity." It concludes with an anonymous quote from an NFC scout: "If you don't like Bernard, then you don't like smart team leaders who can run. It's that simple."

Said Bills General Manager Brandon Beane: "We really liked him in the process. He was impressive. We have Bobby Babich taking over at linebacker (coach) and we sent Bobby out as we did with some other coaches to work out some of these guys. Bobby came back in and presented and he was one of the guys that he felt really connected. This guy picked it up like that. Some guys are, 'He's going to be able to learn it, but it's going to take some time.' But he's like, `This guy will be teaching it to other people pretty quick. He's got it.'

"I had Sean (McDermott) reach out to their head coach, which we know (Dave) Aranda a little bit. Leslie (Frazier) reached out as well. Aranda could not say enough about this kid's leadership, his work ethic, his habits. He's an alpha leader of that defense. He couldn't say enough good things about him. And we've talked to Aranda before when he had guys at LSU and now at Baylor. He will shoot you straight. He's not just giving you the company line. So we took that. What he said matched what Bobby got, and obviously what we saw on the film."

2. An injury sank his 2020 season. Bernard entered his redshirt junior season with high expectations. He was named to the preseason All-Big 12 first team, as well as several watch lists. He started the season on a tear, leading the Bears in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss through five games. He suffered a torn labrum and fractured shoulder, however, which ended his season prematurely. Despite that, he was a second-team All-Big 12 selection after finishing with 55 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception and two passes defensed.

 3. He made a college switch. Bernard initially committed to Houston, but when former Cougars coach Tom Herman left the school, the linebacker decided to play at Baylor for head coach Matt Rhule, now the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

4. He’s a former three-star recruit. Bernard had a decorated career at La Porte High School in La Porte, Texas. He won all-district honors three times during his career, and as a senior in 2016, he won District 22-6A defensive MVP. The Houston Chronicle listed him as a first-team All-Greater Houston selection, and he as named to the Class 6A All-State second team. The website 247Sports listed Bernard No. 140 on its rankings of recruits from the football-mad state of Texas. ESPN had him a bit higher, ranking No. 106 in Texas.

5. Education is important to him. Bernard was an eight-time recipient of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. He earned an undergraduate degree in health, kinesiology and leisure studies. He’s also working on a master’s degree in sports management.

"Guys that are doing that, generally they're super competitive," Beane said. "They're not just trying to fly by school, do what I can, get a tutor to help me out. They're competitive in everything they do. They're competitive at practice. Those are the guys in the meeting rooms who are competitive -- they're trying to catch the coach drawing up something wrong, 'no, coach, it should be this.' You love that. Guys that just want to be great at whatever they do. Whether they're playing chess. Whether they're in the class room, or whether they're on the football field. It speaks to their character and their values. Obviously, they've got to be good football players, but that's a plus when the character adds to what they are as a player."


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News Sports Reporter

I started at The Buffalo News in 2009, and have previously been honored as one of the top 10 beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors for my coverage of the Bills. I live in Amherst with my wife, Melissa, and son, Elliott.

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