This time of year, the bulk of reports from recruiting services detail the busy football camp schedules and summer unofficial visits of recruits across the nation. One of the hotter recruits in Southern California is Norco High School running back Toby Gerhart, with offers back east to match a handful from the Pac-10. Gerhart is taking a different road with his summer, however. He has not attended a single football camp or combine. Instead, he is beating back the summer doldrums on the diamond.
"The is the first summer for me where I've played baseball," says the 6'1" two-sport standout. "Normally it's workouts, seven-on-seven and passing leagues. This summer, I'm giving myself a chance to see what I can do with baseball."
The bicoastal busy summer started for Gerhart when he traveled to Atlanta and Turner Field for the Perfect Game National Showcase. The outfielder then returned to the West Coast and spent the better part of a week at Stanford's baseball camp. He recently participated in the Angels Elite team tryouts in SoCal and currently is finishing the World Wood Bat Championships in Marietta (Ga.). His final tour will bring him back to the Golden State again, when he takes part in the prestigious Area Code Games in Long Beach.
Gerhart has seen his stock as a baseball player rise rapidly in recent months, and thus you might question the need for him to camp with the Cardinal.
"At first, it was something we decided a long time ago - before the offer came from Stanford. It was for the exposure," the recruit reveals of his camp plans. "As things progressed, it seemed like I didn't need to go any longer. I was past needing the exposure. But I decided to go to get to know the baseball program better, and I'm glad I did. Coach Marquess and Coach Stotz were great. I had a blast. I stayed in the dorms, ate in the cafeteria - I got to experience college life for five or six days."
"I had been up there before, but I loved it up there," Gerhart continues. "On the Fourth of July, another kid and I walked all over campus looking for a place to watch fireworks. It took 30 minutes for us to get back afterward. The campus is huge. We finally found a parking garage, but by the time we got up there, the fireworks were ending. All that walking for just a couple fireworks!"
Maybe more impactful than the campus or experiences, says Gerhart, was the message he received from the Stanford Baseball coaches.
"When I was up there, before camp started, I sat down with Coach Marquess, my dad and my high school coach," he details. "They told me that they want me as a baseball player, regardless of football. If I don't want to play football after a couple of years or one year, they would be happy to switch me over to a baseball scholarship. They think I'm a great baseball player and want me because of my baseball."
"It is really good to hear that they are looking me as a baseball player and not just as a freebie," Gerhart adds. "Some schools use baseball recruiting as a trick just to help out their football program. Stanford is not like that... I'm really comfortable up there. Right now, Stanford is at the top of my list."
Despite a rising tide of offers, it is good news for the Cardinal that they have been able to maintain a lead on this blue chip recruit. It is additionally encouraging to hear that despite his busy baseball and travel schedule this summer, Gerhart is mindful of the Stanford admissions application.
"I got the admissions packet and I'm working on the first section," he shares. "I will work on the rest of it and send it in soon."
Other schools will have their crack at Gerhart. He just fielded a phone call from UCLA's baseball head coach. He is taking an unofficial trip to swing through the campuses of Duke and Ole Miss in the beginning of August. But the greatest threat to the Cardinal right now, in examining all the evidence, might be professional baseball. There is a strong track record of Stanford signees turning down big money from the big leagues, but it is always a threat.
"The Major League Baseball scouting bureau has been following me, so I asked Coach Marquess about it. He said don't worry about getting an advisor," Gerhart reports. "But after the tournament up there [at Stanford], he told me I better get an advisor."
"I guess I really impressed them," he laughs.
So how much of a threat should the Stanford staffs, and other suitors, expect from a professional baseball signing straight out of high school?
"I want to go to college, unless there is just some outrageous money I can't turn down," Gerhart answers. "And I want to play football. I will sign for football and definitely play both sports."
With the prospect of an admissions application submission on the horizon, and a strong leader in his mind, Gerhart could be off the market soon. He has previously said he would like to make his decision before starting his senior season of football. As is the case with a number of recruits, the relief from all the recruiting hysteria would be welcome come the start of fall football.
"I'm aiming for the start of my senior season for football," Gerhart shares. "But I might take an official visit, to see what football is like during the season."
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!