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Atlanta native JD Bertrand looking forward to 'unbelievable opportunity' to play for hometown Falcons

JD Bertrand won back-to-back 4A state championships at Blessed Trinity High School before taking his talents to Notre Dame. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — After the Falcons drafted JD Bertrand in the 2024 NFL Draft, the fifth-round pick caught up with his old high school coach.

Tim McFarlin and Bertrand won back-to-back 4A state championships together at Blessed Trinity High School in 2017 and 2018. Now, the former coach has another thing to brag about in regards to Bertrand. Oh, and he'll brag to anyone, Bertrand said, including the stranger taking their photo after the two had lunch last week.

"He's like, 'You know he plays for the Falcons now?'" Bertrand recalled. "He's a like a proud dad, proud grandpa. It's awesome."

While McFarlin no longer coaches high school football, it still wasn't a difficult meeting logistically since both were in the Atlanta area. After all, when the Falcons selected the inside linebacker he was in his family home in Roswell, Georgia a little more than 40 miles away from the Falcons war room in Flowery Branch. Meanwhile, McFarlin is still stationed in the Atlanta area, working with Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets' director of high school relations.

Bertrand returns home after four years in South Bend, Indiana where he played for Notre Dame, amassing 22.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and nine pass breakups.

JD Bertrand during the 2024 Rookie Minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Friday, May 10, 2024. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Instead of the Bertrand family trekking over 10 hours for his college games every Saturday, they can now make the short 45-minute commute to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sundays. That's what Bertrand is excited for as he gears up to play for the team he grew up watching, that and having his support system in close proximity.

While his hometown community helped him reach his NFL goal of getting drafted, they also shaped Bertrand into a leader.

Along with football, Bertrand was a Boy Scout growing up, too. His mom helped orchestrate his Eagle Scout activities. They initially just made lunches at the local church, but activities quickly expanded to a large book drive and feeding underserved communities in metro Atlanta.

"It was one of the times that I was able to be a true leader," Bertrand said in his introductory press conference.

Those skills, in part, helped Bertrand into the player he is today.

As Falcons rookie minicamp commenced late last week, Raheem Morris and staff were impressed with Bertrand's consistent routine that usually takes rookies time to develop. It's something he learned from speaking with NFL veterans while still in school.

Now, he'll have the opportunity to learn alongside an experienced linebacker room of Kaden Elliss, Troy Andersen and Nate Landman.

"It really is an unbelievable opportunity," Bertrand said.

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