It took him 4 years, but Jordan Bernstine finally got on the field for the Hawkeyes. The journey to get into a starting role has had its bumps and bruises along the way, but it’s finally here.
He was slated to become a starter in 2009. The departure of Bradley Fletcher left an opening opposite Amari Spievey, and the job was his to lose. And then he got hurt. Bernstine never saw the field in 2009, and fans began to wonder if we’d ever see the player we thought he was. Shaun Prater got the opportunity and he ran with it.
Then Amari Spievey left the program. He left following his junior season in which he earned All-Big Ten honors, and the job was open again. This time, sophomore Micah Hyde won the spot, and Bernstine was left to play on special teams. And now here we are.
Jordan Bernstine was a senior who had nowhere to play. Micah Hyde made the transition to safety and Greg Castillo filled in cornerback. B.J. Lowery was regarded as a good nickel candidate, and Tanner Miller and Colin Sleeper had the job down at safety opposite Hyde. A poor performance by the secondary vs. Iowa State finally gave Bernstine the opportunity. The coaching staff slid Hyde back to corner, and Bernstine earned his chance. He hasn’t looked back.
If you’ve watched him on a week to week basis, the kid makes plays. He is playing like he has nothing to lose, and does he? He’s a 5th year senior who’s career never really took off. His always seemed to get injured right when an opportunity presented itself, and he became a forgotten name.
He’s played in 3 games, started 2, and has recorded 18 tackles. He’s playing strong safety, the position that is more likely to play in the box. That is evident in his TFL stats. He has 2.5 tackles for loss, and a sack for a 4 yard loss. His speed is still there, instincts as well, and he’s been a pleasant surprise.
His contributions aren’t limited to defense. He also return kicks alongside Keenan Davis. He’s returned 8 kicks for 184 yards, a 23 yard average. He’s had a few electric plays, and it’ll be interesting to see how he continues to develop as a returner.
Whether you like him or you hate him, you must respect the fact that a 5th year senior, depleted by injuries, has returned with such a vengeance. The coaching staff and fellow players have acknowledged the work he’s put in, and it’s great to see it pay off.