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Mike Bernier will continue to wear No. 98 for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2019 after considering transferring to a different school to play his final year of collegiate football. The talented punter had numerous offers from other schools, but chose to remain with the Tide. Photo- Alabama Athletics

Mike Bernier Remains With Alabama Crimson Tide

TUSCALOOSA- Alabama head football coach Nick Saban wanted him back. Alabama’s special teams coordinator Jeff Banks wanted him to return. After many hours of a painstaking decision making process, Mike Bernier has returned to the Alabama football team to complete his 2019 season and career for the Crimson Tide.

“I’m happy to be back and couldn’t wait to get back on the field,” said Bernier. “Winning one more national title before I complete my play here would be great.”

For the former Bob Jones athlete, Bernier just completed his bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Business Administration with a double degree in finance and economics and is currently enrolled into the school’s masters program. He is completing his education at Alabama without the aid of a scholarship as he’s been designated a walk-on since arriving at the Capstone after his freshman year of college. He transferred to Alabama after one season at Eastern Illinois.

This summer he officially entered the transfer portal after being the Crimson Tide’s starting punter the final eight games of last season. To his surprise, Bernier received 23 offers from schools around the country and was looking to transfer to Northwestern where he would receive a full scholarship for his last year of playing eligibility. But after three weeks into the commitment, the offer was rescinded by Northwestern.

“The school officials told me they had to offer the scholarship to one of their players who had been injured,” said Bernier. “I still had a couple additional schools with full-ride scholarship offers, but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving Alabama both athletically and academically. I had long talks with Coach Banks and I was accepted back onto the team.”

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound punter was immediately thrown back into the mix and is currently listed No. 2 on the depth chart behind sophomore Skyler DeLong and is ahead of freshman Will Reichard. Bernier feels like he’s back at home and is in the best position possible. He added, “I don’t expect to start, but I’ll be ready.”

Last season DeLong had trouble making consistent kicks, so Bernier stepped into the starting position during the game against Tennessee and kept the position through the National Championship game versus Clemson. Going into this season the situation is much the same with Bernier waiting in the wings should anything happen.

“This fills the void for me of wanting to compete and as far as I’m concerned it’s all worth it for me,” said Bernier. “This program at Alabama turns you into a man- a proper man in life- influences you to be the best man you can be.”

Bernier’s family story has been told many times as his mother died of cancer just prior to the start of the 2018 season. His father has fit the bill for his son’s entire college education and told Bernier he had a job and that was to play football at Alabama.

“My father did not want me to have any debt once I graduated from college and did want me to have any added stress,” said Bernier. “All of that means the world to me. My father lost his mother at about the same age as I lost mine. Knowing my mother is in a better place gets me through the rough times just like the one year anniversary of her death just a few weeks ago. She’s now pain free.”

Bernier did not expect the reaction he received from the transfer portal as he thought it was sort of an insurance policy in a way. When he arrived back onto the practice field he was warmly welcomed by his teammates and entire coaching staff. He said he has one National Championship ring and one SEC Championship ring and he wants one more of each before he departs the Alabama program for good at the end of this season.

In the meantime, he awaits his chance to again prove to himself he has the right stuff to play for the premier college football program in America.

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