Alabama has a walk-on punter in its ranks, and his story about how he got his chance is a good one and a sad one all at the same time.
Mike Bernier, who attended Bob Jones High School (Madison, Ala.) and went on to play the 2015 season on scholarship at Eastern Illinois, decided he needed to return home to be with his mother Sonja, who has stage 4 breast cancer, AL.com reports.
His mother was the one who urged Mike to go to EIU, but Mike decided he would return home and leave school during semester break.
“When I was up there, I tried not to think about it, but it was always on my mind,” Mike said of his mom, per AL.com. “No matter what I was doing, I was always thinking about my mom. The later it got in the season, the more I thought about it and I came to the decision that I should come home.”
Bernier was slated to continue his education and play at Jacksonville State, but a shot-in-the-dark call to Alabama special teams coach Bobby Williams turned into Alabama requesting Bernier come to Tuscaloosa for a visit. An offer to join the team as a preferred walk-on came a bit thereafter, and he accepted.
“I’m very excited,” Sonja said of her son, per the report. “He loves Alabama. That’s his dream school.”
Mike will join Alabama in August, and is taking classes at Calhoun Community College (Tanner, Ala.) in the meantime. He’s also working a part-time job and training for the coming season.