Q: What's the atmosphere been like?
A: It's been unbelievable, just to be with the legends of college football and to be recognized, not just me, but Stanford.
Q: Does coming in second make you want to give it another run?
A: [Laughs.] Kind of.
Q: Did you see yourself ending up a Heisman finalist?
A: Just being here, it's an honor: a kid like myself coming from a small town, a high-school football player from a small town to Stanford, and now to New York. If anything, I'm really proud to represent Stanford and to be here.
Q: When did you start thinking you had a shot?
A: Probably the Oregon game, or after the USC game, people started talking about me as a potential Heisman candidate. And then that Saturday against Notre Dame, the other guys had had tough games, and so Taggy [then-RB coach Willie Taggart] said I could make a statement.
Q: [Yet another form of "Are you disappointed?"]
A: I'm just happy to be here.
Q: What final did you have this week, again?
A: An archeology final, Thursday morning.
Q: What was it like to interact with the other finalists?
A: Tebow's been a celebrity the last three years. McCoy's an incredible athlete and Suh's probably going to be the No. 1 overall draft pick. Ingram's the No. 1 sophomore in the nation. I see them on TV all the time, so it was great to be here, interact and build friendships. Just build a friendship.
Q: What's Tebow like?
A: Tebow's a funny guy. He's perfect when you see him on TV. But it's not just all built up: everything you see is true. He's one of nicest, greatest guys you'll ever meet.
Q: [Incredulous.] You voted for Luck as Team MVP?
A: [Shrugs.] I wasn't going to vote for myself.
Q: How'd you win the Doak but not the Heisman? The Doak's more nationally representative?
A: Of course, you could look at the Doak and say the Heisman's more of a national thing while the Doak is more of a committee. I really don't know.
Q: What would you say to future student-athletes? [Reporter motions to middle-school football players in audience.]
A: I wouldn't recommend taking 21 units in season! Looking back, I wouldn't do that again! But, you have to balance school and sports. You have to take pride in your education. It often gets overlooked, but as a kid, my parents really enforced academics, and as a student, you need to take pride in that. I kept up with my schoolwork, and then that gave me time for sports. It's when you put things off it that it becomes a time problem.
Q: Would you rather go No. 5 in the MLB or the NFL Draft?
A: At this point, No. 5 in football.
Q: Who'd you grow up watching?
A: I grew up a huge Packers fan. I loved Favre. I'm a huge Favre fan. Looking back, my favorite athlete was Bo Jackson. My dad loved Earl Campbell and so I grew up watching Earl Campbell films.
Q: Are you concerned your running style is going to get you hurt?
A: That's the tradeoff of the game. … My mom wants me to be happy, but she is always concerned with my health. But they'll support me whatever I decide to do.
Q: How'd you spend your Saturday? Did you get to sightsee?
A: I woke up and then we went to CBS Studios in a limo and did a halftime Heisman Watch for the Army-Navy game. Then I took quick shower, shaved and ran downstairs. Sightsee? Yes, we went around and saw the Empire State Building, saw the Rockefeller Center in front of the Christmas tree.
Q: Were you disappointed coming in second?
A: It's hard any time you don't win. We're all competitors, we like to win and we do win most of the time, so to come up short always hurts. But on the bright side, like I've said, it's an honor to be here. To be one of five players representing the nation of football players, just to be in this situation is a huge honor.
The Bootleg: How about your offensive line? Have you noticed a difference in your years at Stanford?
A: All the credit goes to them. They're the ones who got me here. I like way Suh put it, he said ‘I'm here representing the guys that don't get the glory, the guys in the background.' Without those guys we wouldn't be here. The Tunnel Workers Union as they call themselves. They go to work for me.
Each year, it's gotten better and better. Freshman year, honestly, it was pretty bad. But sophomore year was good and this year was even better. Coach Drevno and Coach Roman deserve the credit, and all of line's work ethic. They're going to keep getting better.
Q: Where'd you get that suit?
A: Kohl's? My mom got it, I don't know. [Mrs. Gerhart later told us that, sure enough, she had Toby meet her at Kohl's and had used a 50 percent discount card to pick out a suit.]
Q: What do you want to most improve for next year?
A: Just my second-level moves. I just want to be more consistent in making people miss. Turning the 10-yard gains into 30-yarders.
Q: What are you going to take away from today?
A: Just kind of coming this far. The easiest way to put is that I'm proud and it's an honor. I'm proud to be here. I came up a little short, but in my heart, I feel like a winner. None of these guys should be disappointed. This is by far the highest achievement I feel. [Pause.] Okay, the Doak Walker maybe, but this is the highest honor.
Q: How about the other finalists being serious students too?
A: It's important to recognize those who excel at both. All of them are exemplars of that and that should be noted. Today, with education falling by the wayside, I just feel like guys like Colt, Suh and Ingram who excel at sports and school are the true heroes, the real role models.
Todd Gerhart, Toby's father
"Toby was a longshot, I think 7500-1 maybe, coming into the season. I could have made lot of money on that one. [Winks.] What a ride for our family, our town. He's done such a good job of talking and handling it. He does much better than my wife and I. He never ceases to amaze us."
"He's competitive. He hears what people say about him, say about NFL, and then he takes that in. So he'll use all of this to move forward. But that's who he is and why he plays baseball and football. He loves competing. Even though he doesn't show emotion when people say things, he's listening."
"I think the Doak Walker was a lot of pressure. When you get nominated, it's more individual, and the sports he plays are not individual, not track or wrestling. So he feels the pressure, but when he won the Doak, I think that took the pressure off this. This was fun. He was already recognized for being best running back in the country. He had to enjoy it."
Two-point conversions [like "Extra Points," but, well, ask Pete Carroll]
Toby's girlfriend, Stanford '10 swimmer Meredith Ayres, made the trip to New York with the family. Not only did she chit-chat with this reporter, admitting Toby might have been a little more nervous this past week than he let on publicly, but she's every bit the looker she is in photos.
I asked Todd Gerhart about Toby's future. He stressed that Toby needs three classes to graduate and is serious about getting those done this winter, with the implication very much consistent with the consensus opinion: Toby's going to take a serious look at the NFL come spring, and if he likes what he hears, he's probably gone. It all comes down to what the NFL execs say though. As Todd put, NFL GMs are his future bosses, and Toby needs to feel comfortable he's won them over before he goes pro.
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