- Birthplace: Davie, Florida
Giovani Govan Bernard (born November 22, 1991) is an American football running back for the Cincinnati Bengals of theNational Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of North Carolina. Bernard was drafted by the Bengals in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Bernard was born in West Palm Beach, Florida. He began playing football for the local tackle football league, the Boca Jets. He played high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was teammates with Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner. While in high school, he was ranked the No. 2 running back in Florida by the Orlando Sentinel and the No. 12 running back in the United States by Rivals.com. He is the younger brother of former Oregon Staterunning back Yvenson Bernard.
Bernard is the son of Haitian immigrant parents, who own a dry cleaning business in Boca Raton, Florida.
Bernard was recruited by many schools and first committed to Notre Dame.
Bernard enrolled in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and played for the North Carolina Tar Heels football team from 2010 to 2012. During the third day of practice, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee after trying to cut away from a defender  and redshirted the 2010 season.
Bernard recovered from the injury and became the starting tailback for the Tar Heels in the 2011 college football season. He became the first North Carolina running back to rush for at least 100 yards in five straight games sinceEthan Horton in 1984. His season-high came against Georgia Tech on September 24, 2011, rushing for 155 yards. In mid-October 2011, Bernard was added to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, presented annually to the best player in college football. During the 2011 regular season, Bernard's 1,222 rushing yards ranked 20th among NCAA Division I FBS players. Bernard also had 326 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games. Bernard was the first running back to eclipse the 1,000-yards plateau at North Carolina sinceJonathan Linton did it in 1997. He was also the top freshman running back in the nation in yards per game that season.
In the first year of head coach Larry Fedora's spread offense in the 2012 season, Bernard increased his rushing yards per game, average yards per carry and receiving yards. He also returned punts for the first time in his college career. On October 27, 2012, Bernard returned a punt 74 yards against NC State in the last 30 seconds of the game to break the tie and win the game. He led Carolina in scoring for the second year in a row and averaged 198.1 all-purpose yards per game, third in the country behind two receivers. The head coaches in the ACC voted Bernard to All-ACC first-team and Bernard was second in player-of-the-year and offensive player-of-the-year voting. He also won the CFPA Punt Returner Trophy for the 2012 season.
On September 16, 2013, Bernard scored two key touchdowns in a 20-10 Monday night win over the Bengals' division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. On October 31, 2013, Bernard scored two touchdowns in an overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins. Bernard's second score came on a 35-yard touchdown run that was praised by commentators as one of the best runs of the season.
Bernard finished the season second on the team in rushing (695 yards), receptions (56), and total yards (1,209), while ranking third in receiving yards (514) and touchdowns (five rushing and three receiving). In his first career playoff game, he rushed for 45 yards and caught seven passes for 73 yards, though he did commit a fumble in the first half and the Bengals lost 27-10 to the San Diego Chargers.
In the second game of the season, a 24-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Bernard had his most productive game to date, with 27 rushes for 90 yards and one touchdown plus five receptions for 79 yards.