He has been at the top of their list all along. They have been atop his list all along.
So it came as no great shock Wednesday night that Toby Gerhart committed to Stanford. Head coach Walt Harris and running backs coach Wayne Moses came to Norco (Calif.) for in-school and in-home visits with the Cardinal's top tailback recruit, and as the evening concluded, the good news was given.
"I just committed to Stanford about 10 minutes ago," Gerhart told The Bootleg. "Coach Harris and Coach Moses just walked out the door, actually. Everybody's really happy."
The running back recruit gave the good word to the Cardinal coaches Wednesday evening, just three days after returning home to Riverside County from his fourth and final official visit - to The Farm. However, it took him only 24 hours to come to his college decision.
"On Monday, me and my parents sat down most the day to talk it all out, and we came to the conclusion that Stanford was the best place for me," Gerhart explains. "I actually told UCLA on Monday that I was committing to Stanford. I didn't want them to hear from anybody else. I thought that was the most honorable thing to do."
The Bruins' opportunity for Gerhart grew more attractive within the past week, with the early NFL entry of their star runner Maurice Drew. However, football is only one component that the two-sport athlete has been weighing for his college future. Gerhart is also one of the top outfield prospects in the nation, ranked by Baseball America as the #50 overall prospect in this year's senior class. Intent on playing both sports at a high level, Gerhart felt like his best dual-sport situation was on The Farm.
"[Baseball] was one of the big parts of my decision. Stanford has a tremendous history of two-sport athletes," he explains. "John Elway, Joe Borchard and Chad Hutchinson are part of the long list of two-sport athletes at Stanford. The faculty there understand the balance and support you. And of course Mark Marquess did two sports, with baseball and football, when he was at Stanford. And he's a great coach."
The same quickness that helps Toby Gerhart hit holes and move up the field on the gridiron also allows him to cover ground in the outfield. His range projects him to play centerfield, as the heir apparent Cardinal junior Joe Rapoport. Stanford and Marquess signed five standout pitchers during the early signing period, but admissions shortfalls left him without a single position player. Gerhart's commitment will be more widely publicized as a Stanford Football victory due to his record-breaking running this past fall at Norco High Schoo, but this pledge is at least as loudly celebrated in the Sunken Diamond clubhouse.
Prior to Wednesday's commitment news, there had been much reported and speculated that UCLA was narrowing the gap with Stanford. Gerhart the previous weekend enjoyed his official visit in Westwood, but his time seven days later on The Farm blew him away and sealed the deal.
"The trip was awesome," the recruit recounts. "I had a good feeling with the players as well as the other recruits there."
Gerhart had been to Stanford several times for unofficial visits over the last year, with countless interactions and conversations with the coaching staff. On this official visit, he aimed for the heart of the program - the players.
"We all just wanted to get a feel for the players there. How they reacted to Coach Harris and how their experience was there. Also the other parents of the other recruits, and how they were impressed. Also the faculty, which we hadn't done before," Gerhart describes. "Everybody loves it there. There was not one person - not one single person - there who said that they regretted their decision to go to Stanford. The football program is on the rise, and they all think Coach Harris has it going in the right direction. And of course the school is just great."
Toby Gerhart offers Harris and the football program their first blue chip running back recruit in three years. He was named the California Player of the Year by both Gatorade and Cal-Hi Sports. He also earned Parade All-American honors. Those accolades all came in the last month, but it was his work on the field throughout the fall that earned him the most acclaim. Gerhart made a run at, and then ran right past, the California state career rushing record. Previously held by Lorenzo Booker with a mark of 8,502 yards, the new Golden State standard belongs to Gerhart with 9,662 yards. He also led the state this year with 3,233 yards, at a clip of 10.67 yards per rush and a total of 39 touchdowns.
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