Name: Joe Bergeron
Speed: 4.45 40
High School: North Mesquite
Rating (Rivals): Three out of five (5.7)
Another JD1 commitment, Bergeron made a serious sacrifice to play at Texas. Though he was receiving interest from power-running Big 10 schools like Wisconsin and Michigan State (neither ended up offering), Bergeron gave up the opportunity to stay at running back to make the transition to fullback/H-back at Texas. That's no small thing considering the lack of glamor the fullback position provides.
Since Bergeron is a low-key guy, there aren't any stories about him being vocal recruiting other players to Texas. On the other hand, he didn't really need to be -- his simple presence in the class had to make it more appealing for a guy like Malcolm Brown, knowing that he would have a fullback to clear the hole for him if he committed to Texas.
North Mesquite head coach Mike Robinson on Bergeron's early commitment ($):
In talking to Joe and his mom, they've seen how process goes and there can be a lot of pressure put on kids to decide on what school they'll spend the next four years at. They had kind of settled on two or three schools and with that being said, they had them in an order of what schools, if offered, where he'd like to go. Texas was his number one choice.
When that offer came through, he accepted it. Now there's no pressure, on him or his family, he can enjoy his senior year, enjoy his daily life and hopefully other schools will respect his decision.
Robinson on why Bergeron chose Texas:
Number one, I believe it was the ability to play for championships, not only Big 12, but national championships. Number two, education and the ability to one day receive a degree from the University of Texas. Number three, playing in the Big 12 South, being able to play close to home. And just the hospitality of the Texas coaches and the family atmosphere, how they were made to feel welcome. It's a large institution, but the recruiting of the Texas coaches took on a personal relationship, making them feel like family.
Robinson on Bergeron's character:
He's very low key. Character wise, I can't mention one time that he's been in trouble except for maybe having a little stubble on his chin once or twice. We have a no facial hair policy and maybe once he forgot to use a razor to shave. He's a peer leader, he's a team leader. Joe's just a very happy-go-lucky kid. He's going to fit well into the Texas system. He doesn't crave the limelight, he's a hard working kid. Some people would say blue collar. He likes to do things the right way. His character will fit right in with what coach Brown likes at Texas.
- Texas (committed 2/12/2010)
- Texas A&M
It's been some time since the Longhorns have had a legitimate fullback. Former Marine Ahmard Hall was the last and the Longhorns didn't use a fullback often in the 2005 season. The last fullback to play extensively was Cedric Benson's personal lead blocker, Will Matthews, in 2004. As the Longhorns attempt to resurrect the running game, Bergeron will be a major part of the effort as a fullback, H-back, and possible short-yardage specialist.
At around six feet tall and 230 pounds, Bergeron has remarkable feet for a large back and quickness similar to Cody Johnson. Watching him run, it's hard to believe that he is a 230-pound running back because he moves like someone much lighter. Timed at 4.6 in the 40 at the NUC ($) before his junior season, Bergeron drew interest from power-running teams like Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Michigan State and will be able to play a variety of positions and even split out as a receiver to take advantage of his solid speed and soft hands. Described as a solid blocker by his head coach ($), it would be interesting to see some film on Bergeron as a blocker because his highlight film does not include any tape of him as a lead blocker.
He's also incredibly strong, reporting a max bench press of 375 pounds and a squat of 560 pounds. After dropping some weight during the last year, Bergeron has a college-ready body and could contribute during his freshman season, though having a player like Barrett Matthews in front of him on the depth chart could keep him from playing right away.
Overall, versatility is the name of the game for Bergeron and he provides with the capability to play numerous positions at a high level.
Coach Robinson again on Bergeron as a football player:
Joe's a multi-dimensional back. We call him a triple threat. Not only can he run, he can catch ball out of backfield, he also can block. In the Texas system, he'll play h-back, which allows him to do what he does best.
He's going to line up and run the ball, line up in slot, catch ball on play action passes. Then when they need that one yard, he can lead for the quarterback or the tailback. He's an unselfish player, which is probably his best quality. He's unselfish and talented.
Joe Bergeron Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
- Conditioning -- For a guy with the "big back" label and a future mostly as a blocking back at Texas, Bergeron worked hard after his junior season to redistribute some of his weight and get into better condition, dropping about 10 pounds and increasing his speed in the process.
- Size/speed combination -- Much like Cody Johnson, Bergeron has well above-average speed for a back of his size and possesses the mass to absolutely punish safeties in the hole. It's impressive to see Bergeron run away from defensive backs in high school and he has enough burst from a stand-still that he was effective in a gun-run/zone scheme at North Mesquite.
- Overall versatility -- It's the name of the game for Bergeron. As his coach mentioned, he can catch, run the ball, and block, skills that will enable him to play three positions at Texas -- running back, fullback, and H-back. For a coach like Bryan Harsin, Bergeron is the type of guy who will keep Harsin up at night figuring out innovative ways to use him in the offense.
- Leg drive/pad level/balance -- Once again, for a big back, it's worth noting how well Bergeron can maintain his balance after contact. It helps that he has a powerful lower body and runs behind his pads. Basically, he maximizes his chance to break tackles and move the pile remarkably well for his age.
- Hands/receiving ability -- Has soft hands and can find holes in zone defenses. Should be a tough matchup for linebackers flexed out. Could be effective running the option routes David Thomas ran at Texas that helped him become Vince Young's security blanket.
- Strength -- The dude reports a squat max of 530 pounds, so he's strong as a bull. The only quibble is about his upper body, where he has plenty of room to fill out.
- Ball security -- Bergeron needs to work on keeping the ball high and tight with his four points of contact because he can let it get away from his body, especially in the open field.
Target Weight -- 240 pounds. It would be a travesty for Bergeron to lose his speed in college as Johnson has, so getting stronger and maintaining his speed is as important as anyone in the class. He's got room on his frame to add 10-15 pounds of muscle and should be able to block, be effective as a receiver, and still has some burst at that weight.
For a three-star commit, it's hard to overestimate just how much Bergeron means to this class. Texas hasn't had a true fullback on the roster since Ahmard Hall left for the NFL (sorry, Antwan Cobb) and Bergeron's versatility fits Bryan Harsin's offensive vision perfectly.
In addition to his roles at H-back and fullback, Bergeron will give Texas the ability to run some two-back sets and hand Bergeron the football -- his feet, speed, and vision should all translate to the next level. And, as long as Texas can find someone to lead block for him, he should also be effective as a short-yardage specialist because he's stronger right now in his lower body than Malcolm Brown, though Brown could certainly pick up some yardage running behind Bergeron and whatever defensive tackle Texas can find to lead block.
For all those clamoring for a downhill running game at Texas, Bergeron could be just as important toward that end as Malcolm Brown and that should be exciting for Longhorn fans.
Impact ETA: 2012. Bergeron probably isn't strong enough right now in the upper body to block as well as Harsinwhite will want as a true freshman. It's not a stretch to think that he'll be able to contribute after a year in the Texas S&C program, though.