By Will Chamblee | Sports Writer, Video by Drake Toll | Managing Editor
Baylor football head coach Dave Aranda announced that star senior linebacker Terrel Bernard and emerging freshman running back Craig ‘Sqwirl’ Williams will both be out for the season.
The pair suffered injuries during Baylor’s 38-31 loss to Iowa State in Ames, Iowa on Saturday.
Bernard tore his labrum and fractured part of his shoulder. He is expected to have surgery to repair the injury. Williams tore both his ACL and MCL and will also require season-ending surgery.
Aranda said the program will greatly miss both Bernard and Williams and the priority remains helping them recover.
“Both of those kids are great kids. They’re both leaders for us, each in their own way,” Aranda said. “For us, making sure that they are taken care of, that we’re there for them and that we help them through this process.”
Bernard was in the midst of the best season of his career and was seen by many as one of the premier linebackers in the nation. Through five games, Bernard had already accumulated 55 total tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Of the injury, Bernard said in a tweet he was disappointed he couldn’t finish the season with his teammates.
“I’m disappointed I won’t be able to finish the year with my guys,” Bernard said. “I’d do anything to be out there with them. I look forward to helping any way I can moving forward.”
Aranda said junior linebacker Abram Smith will replace Bernard. Smith will bring plenty of experience to the position, as he appeared in all 14 of Baylor’s games last season.
“He’s been getting those reps in practice,” Aranda said. “I thought when he came in on Saturday there were some positive things that he did. He’s awfully eager, wanting to improve and spend the time to do it.”
Aranda was quick to note that while Bernard will not be able to play, he will still have a considerable impact on the team, mentoring his replacements.
“He really wants to be involved in the mentorship with Abe,” Aranda said. “His mentorship with our linebacker group is going to be so much more than when he was playing. The powerful impact that he can make, I believe it is real.”
Williams, who had earned his first collegiate start on Saturday, was also in the middle of a breakout season. Williams had rushed for a career-high of 91 yards and a touchdown against TCU.
Thankfully for the Bears, Baylor has a lot of depth at the running back position. The senior running back duo of John Lovett and Trestan Ebner will look to replace Williams’ explosive speed.
While both injuries represent a major setback for both players, Aranda chose to focus on the positives it will bring for Bernard and Williams. Aranda said that the vulnerability that comes with a shoulder injury will help Bernard grow as a leader.
“His ability to grow as a leader with that type of vulnerability that is going to come will only make him stronger,” Aranda said. “His ability to adapt and really grow as a leader is going to be huge for him.”
Aranda said Williams’s ability to smile and give his teammates a boost while he is unable to play will also help him grow as a leader.
“Sqwirl brings an energy and just that smile, man, brightens up a room like that,” Aranda said. “His ability to do that when he is fighting his own battle will improve him.”
Baylor’s next game will be against Texas Tech at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Lubbock. The game will be televised on FS1.