Gerhart Looking to Seize his Opportunity

Prior to this year, it had been nearly three years since Arizona State had signed a quarterback to its recruiting class, something that’s nearly unheard of in college football. But the Sun Devils more than made up for their recent shortcomings at the position in 2014, first securing the commitment of four-star prospect Manny Wilkins and then later adding athlete Coltin Gerhart.

After initially being recruited as a safety, Gerhart’s senior season success only intensified his desires to play the quarterback position at the college level, something the Arizona State coaches were more than willing to indulge. Now, it appears the Sun Devils have a pair of talented young quarterbacks ready to lead them into the future, and that’s a problem they’re glad to have.

Freshman Coltin Gerhart is an athlete in every sense of the word. You can even say it’s in his blood. Gerhart’s oldest brother, Toby, starred as a running back at Stanford where he rushed for a school record 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns while finishing second in the 2009 Heisman Trophy balloting to Alabama’s Mark Ingram by a mere 28 votes.

His other brother, Garth, started 35 games for the Sun Devils at center from 2008-2011, earning Second Team All-Pac-12 honors as a senior. Oh, and his sister, Teagan, was a pitching standout at Stanford where she notched 101 career wins for the Cardinal with a 2.24 career ERA.

So far though, Coltin has done just fine carrying on the family tradition of excelling in their respective sports.

He began his high school playing career at Norco (Calif.) High School where he was a three year varsity member while playing for his father, Todd Gerhart. Not only did he lead the Cougars on both sides of the ball at quarterback and safety, but he was also a standout on the baseball field as an outfielder.

As a junior, Gerhart passed for 1,330 yards and 11 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,131 yards and an additional 20 touchdowns as he quietly began receiving recruiting attention as one of the West’s latest, blossoming all-around talents. However, it was also around the same time that Gerhart made the surprise announcement that he was transferring to nearby Vista Murrieta after Todd’s coaching contract was not renewed at Norco following the 2012 season, which ultimately set him up for even more success on the football field.

“Well, I’m a pretty good athlete, so I was originally recruited as just an athlete because I can do multiple things,” said Gerhart on Saturday at ASU’s Media Day. “Once I transferred to Vista Murrieta though, I had a wide variety of opportunities. I had good receivers and just flourished in that atmosphere. From there on I was recruited as a quarterback here and at multiple other schools.”

Originally, Arizona State began recruiting Gerhart as a safety. At 6-1 and 216 pounds, Gerhart easily fit the role of a quick, power-hitting safety in Head Coach Todd Graham’s defensive scheme. However, after his transfer to Vista Murrieta, it became clear to everyone that offense was in Gerhart’s immediate future as he quickly began shooting up recruiting charts across the country.

“It was kind of a split decision from the coaching staff,” he said. “Some wanted me to play safety and some wanted me to play quarterback but then we just decided I’d play safety. But from there, I think it was probably when Coach Norvell came down to campus and watched one of our games and I did really, really well, it kind of opened his eyes up a little bit and he thought maybe quarterback really was the best position for me.”

As a senior, Gerhart passed for 1,713 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed for another 1,418 yards and 25 touchdowns, proving his value as a true dual-threat quarterback.

Rated as a three-star prospect and the eighth best quarterback in the West region, Gerhart received more than a dozen scholarship offers, including offers from Boise State, California, Duke, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, before eventually narrowing his choices down to Arizona State and Nebraska.

“They kind of just left the decision up to me,” said Gerhart when asked if his family had any input of his school of choice. “Garth, of course, was pushing me here. He said I would have a great time and that he’d buy a house out here if he made it on the Packers’ roster and stuff. It wasn’t that much pressure though. We sat down and drew up all the positives and negatives of my choices and just decided it was ASU.

“It was just a little bit of everything. I was really comfortable when I got here. The program is on the rise and there are a lot of good things going on here, so it was the perfect fit for me.”

Gerhart arrived in Tempe in mid-June with many of the other members of Arizona State’s recruiting class, including its other quarterback, Wilkins. While Gerhart says the two never really spoke to each other throughout the recruiting process, they have had a chance to get to know each other more over the last two months.

“I wouldn’t say we’re too close but we both get along really well,” he said. “We’re always going to bring each other up and challenge each other and push each other to the best of our abilities and we help each other out when the other one needs it.”

Since his arrival, Gerhart says he’s been fully immersed in offseason workouts with Strength and Conditioning Coach Shawn Griswold while also trying his best to learn Coach Norvell’s playbook.

“It was a grind. It was a big change,” he said. “Physically, I don’t think I’ve ever ran this much in my life. My family’s not really good at getting in shape. I mean, we can run fast and train for top speed but never long distance. It was a big challenge, not so much in the weight room but on the field, both mentally and physically.”

“They throw a lot at us pretty quickly but I retain information pretty well and I can process things pretty quick, so I’m doing pretty well. They throw you out there to the wolves and expect you to keep up.”

While not much is expected from Gerhart in 2014 with veterans Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici ahead of both him and Wilkins and the Sun Devil depth chart, the two newcomers will continue to battle it out to see who will be the team’s third string quarterback over the remaining couple of weeks in Fall Camp.

However, one thing is for sure though at this point; Gerhart has no plans of switching back to defense any time soon.

“Nah,” he said. “Not at all. Quarterback and nothing else.”

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