It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to those who know Jared Bernhardt. The former Lake Brantley football and lacrosse star is driven, always one of the best athletes on the field no matter what he’s doing and he’s now a member of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

For those who know Bernhardt, his latest accomplishment comes as no surprise. Skip Clayton, Lake Brantley’s first-year head coach who was an assistant under his dad George Clayton when Bernhardt was at Brantley, has followed Bernhardt’s career.

“It’s exciting, especially for us. He was one of the greatest football players in the school’s history here at Brantley, but then didn’t pursue football originally in college,” Skip Clayton said. “We always knew he was one of the best in the country, if not the world, in lacrosse, so we always understood his decision … but we were disappointed we weren’t going to get to see him play [football] any more.”

Eventually the coach would get that chance.

He was a standout quarterback for Brantley, as well as an all-American lacrosse player. The 2016 graduate made a tough decision in the fall of 2015 to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers, signing a National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at Maryland.

It was done. Lacrosse would be his focus and he vowed to make the most of it, and did.

The choice was difficult. It was either Maryland lacrosse of Navy football.

“I’ve been playing them both a long time, football longer than lacrosse,” Bernhardt told the Sentinel back then. “I don’t really have a favorite.”

Bernhardt’s bloodline tells the story of his passion and his success. His father, Jim, who died at the age of 63 in 2019, played lacrosse and football at Hofstra, and was an adviser to Houston Texan’s coach Bill O’Brien in the NFL. His brothers, Jake, 26, and Jesse, 25, were successful two-sport athletes at Lake Brantley before playing lacrosse at NCAA power Maryland and then professionally.

At Maryland, given an extra year of eligibility after COVID hit, he took advantage and went on to win the 2021 Tewaaraton Award, the college lacrosse version of the Heisman Trophy.

But he wasn’t done and football opportunities still loomed. He got a chance to use a graduate transfer season at Ferris State and he led the Bulldogs as quarterback to a 14-0 record and the NCAA Division II nation championship last season.

NFL people took notice and he signed a free-agent contract with the Falcons after this past April’s NFL Draft. He was so impressive as a receiver in training camp that he made the Atlanta 53-man roster.

“When he took that extra year at Ferris last year, we were all very excited,” Clayton said. “And Jared did what Jared does. He just wins. He’s a winner, an amazing athlete. He makes special things happen. He’s just someone you want around you.

“So for him to get a chance with Atlanta, just kinda knew he was going to find a way on to their 54-man roster. He’s just that kind of guy. He’s not the fastest kid, or the tallest, or the biggest … he’s just special.”

Another notable player to make the Falcons roster was former Florida Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks. The ex-UF star made the team as a tight end, joining another former Gator Kyle Pitts on the Atlanta roster.

There were several other players not as fortunate as Bernhardt, getting released on NFL cut day.

In a bit of a surprising move, the Houston Texans released quarterback Jeff Driskel, who played at Hagerty and then Florida and Louisiana Tech. He’s has had NFL stints with the Bengals and Lions and was with the Texans last season before being cut Tuesday. He was expected to be the Texans back-up quarterback to Davis Mills. Driskel will be on he Houston practice squad.

Also hoping for better things this year out of camp was former Bishop Moore and Charlotte safety Ben DeLuca, was was released for the second straight year by the Los Angeles Chargers. He spect last season on the Chargers practice squad before being called up for the final three games.

Also missing out on final roster spots for the second straight season was RB Jacques Patrick (Timber Creek), who was released by the Bengals, and RB Dexter Williams (West Orange/Notre Dame) was cut by the Packers.

UCF players missing the cut were the CB Tay Gowan (Eagles), TE Jordan Franks (Chiefs), LB Rashard Causey (Broncos), OL Jordan McCray (Bears). WR Tre Nixon (Patriots) was placed on the practice squad, as was TE Jordan Akins with the Texans.

Florida cuts: OL David Sharpe and LB Jeremiah Moon were both placed on the Ravens practice squad, OL S Teez Tabor was placed on the Falcons practice squad, Martez Ivey (Patriots),S Quincy Wilson (Dolphins), WR John Hammond (Patriots), RB La’Mical Perine (Jets), DE Jabari Zuniga (Jets), OT Chaz Green (Steelers).

FSU cuts: LB Hamsah Nasirildeen (Jets), CB Terrence Brooks (Texans),

Miami cuts: C Danny Isidora (Cardinals), DT Gerald WIllis (Ravens), WR Braxton Berrios (Jets), WR Michael Harley (Browns), RB Malik Davis (Cowboys), CB Corn Elder (Commodores)

FAU cuts: DT Brandin Bryant (Browns), TE Zaire Mitchell-Paden (Browns), CB Herb Miller, (Browns)

USF cuts: RB Marlon Mack (Texans).

FIU cuts: CB Isiah Brown (Raiders)

Central Florida players on 2022 NFL rosters

Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills (Seminole/UCF)

Matt Milano, LB, Buffalo Bills (Dr. Phillips/Boston College)

Tommy Townsend, P, Kansas City (Boone/Florida)

Trey Hendrickson, DE, Cincinnati Bengals (Apopka/FAU)

Karl Joseph, S, on IR, Pittsburgh Steelers (Edgewater/West Virginia)

Keanu Neal, S, Tampa Bay Bucs (South Sumter/Florida)

Kerby Joseph, S, Detroit Lions (Jones/Illinois)

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, WR, Tennessee Titans (Lake Mary/Indiana)

Leonard Williams, DE, New York Giants (Mainland/USC)

Darrynton Evans, RB, Chicago Bears (New Smyrna Beach/Appalachian State)

Jared Bernhardt, WR, Atlanta Falcons (Lake Brantley/Maryland/Ferris State)

Jamel Dean, CB, Tampa Bay Bucs (Cocoa/Auburn)

Marcus Maye, S, New Orleans Saints (Melbourne Holy Trinity/Florida)

Stone Forsythe, OT, Seattle Seahawks (West Orange/Florida)

Juwaan Taylor, OT, Jacksonville (Cocoa/Florida)

Jashaun Corbin, RB, New York Giants (Rockledge/FSU)

State college players on 2022 NFL rosters

FSU (20)

Ronald Darby, CB, Denver Broncos

Bobby Hart, OT, Buffalo Bills

Jermaine Johnson, DE, New York Jets

Lamarcus Joyner, S, New York Jets

Josh Kaindoh, DE, Kansas City Chiefs

Derrick Nnadi, DT, Kansas ity Chiefs

Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Los Angeles Chargers

Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers

Dustin Hopkins, K, Los Angeles Chargers

Terrence Brooks, S, Houston Texans

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vkings

Graham Gano, K, New York Giants

Josh Sweat, DE, Philadelphia Eagles

Marvin Wilson, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

Rodney Hudson, C, Arizona Cardinals

Brian Burns DE, Carolina Panthers

Cameron Irving, OT, Carolina Panthers

P.J. Williams, S, New Orleans Saints

Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints

Azeez Al-Shaairm, LB, San Francisco 49ers

Florida (18)

Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Denver Broncos

Kaiir Elam, CB, Buffalo Bills

Trent Brown, OT, New England Patriots

Carlos Dunlap, DE, Kansas City Chiefs

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Zachary Carter, DT, Cincinnati

Evan McPherson, K, Cincinnati Bengals

Taven Bryan, DT, Cleveland Browns

Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans

Johnathan Greenard, DE, Houston Texans

Jonathan Bullard, DE, Minnesota Vkings

Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Dallas Cowboys

Kadrius Toney, WR, New York Giants

John Bostic, LB, Washington Commodores

D.J. Humphries, OT, Arizona Cardinals

Marco Wilson, CB, Arizona Cardinals

CJ Henderson, CB, Carolina Panthers

Eddie Pineiro, K, Carolina Panthers

Miami (19)

Duke Johnson, RB, Buffalo Bills

Greg Rousseau, DE, Buffalo Bills

Jaquan Johnson, S, Buffalo Bills

Jalean Phillips, LB, Miami Dolphins

Deon Bush, S, Kansas City Chiefs

Denzel Perryman, LB, Las Vegas Raiders

Calais Campbell, DT, Baltimore Ravens

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns

Phillip Dorsett, WR, Houston Texans

Brevin Jordan, TE, Houston Texans

K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Jon Feliciano, OG, New York Giants

Quincy Roche, LB, New York Giants

Artie Burns, CB, Seattle Seahawks

DeeJay Dallas, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Travis Homer, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Mike Jackson, CB, Seattle Seahawks

Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Jacksonville Jaguars

Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Jacksonville

UCF (9)

Shaquill Griffin, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Brandon Johnson, WR, Denver Broncos, IR

Charley Hughlett, LS, Cleveland Browns

Justin McCray, OG, Houston Texans

Trysten Hill, DT, Dallas Cowboys

Aaron Robinson, CB, New York Giants

Matt Prater, K, Arizona Cardinals

Richie Grant, S, Atlanta Falcons

Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints

FAU (6)

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

Desmond Noel, OG, Cincinnati Bengals, IR

Harrison Bryant, TE, Cleveland Browns

James Pierre, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Greg Joseph, K, Minnesota Vkings

Zyon Gilbert, CB, New York Giants

USF (4)

Mike Love, DE, Buffalo Bills

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Mitchell Wilcox, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

D’Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns


Jonnu Smith, TE, New England Patriots (FIU); Donald Parham Jr., TE, Los Angeles Chargers (Stetson); D’Anthony Bell, S, Cleveland Browns (West Florida); Markquese Bell, S, Dallas Cowboys (Florida A&M); Stantley Oliver-Thomas III, LB, Carolina Panthers (FIU).

Not all rosters and practice squads have been made official. Email Chris Hays at with any discrepancies. Chris Hays cover High school, college football recruiting and the NFL, as well at the Orlando Magic.