Mike Bernier’s supposed last punt of his career was a beauty against Clemson, but Bernier had one last year of eligibility left and chose to use it. He enters the spring as the incumbent starter.
Whether he enters as the favorite to win the job is anyone’s guess. Skyler DeLong was a highly sought-after recruit in 2018 and has more leg strength than Bernier. But all the potential in the world couldn’t save DeLong from losing his job in 2018 after several early mis-hits and the sudden emergence of a hitch in his delivery conspired to torpedo his season. Still, scholarships are powerful things, and potential is intoxicating, so he’ll get every opportunity to reclaim his seat.
Bernier, though, should remain the favorite, for now. He’s a max-effort guy and looked far more comfortable in the role – especially under heavy fire – than DeLong ever did. Alabama is also bringing in at least one walk-on with significant talent this fall, so the fear that DeLong can’t recover appears to be real.
Summary: Bernier’s game isn’t perfect; he lacks a booming leg, and he doesn’t have the quickest get-off by any stretch. But we still expect him to keep the job unless DeLong shows up for spring ball a changed man. More than anything, DeLong looked to need some counseling just before he was benched, as he had lost confidence.
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