This is an article from the Dec. 14, 2009 issue
The Stanford senior and Heisman candidate rushed for 1,736 yards this fall and hit .288 with seven homers as an outfielder last spring
Dan Patrick:Have you ever done the Heisman pose, publicly or privately?
Toby Gerhart: My mom says I used to do it in the kitchen when I was a little kid running around with a football. More recently, in the locker room after our game against Notre Dame, Coach [Jim] Harbaugh handed out a game ball and the rest of the team started chanting "Heisman! Heisman!" And then I struck a pose.
DP:I have a vote. What's the argument for using it on you?
TG: I've been consistent all year and been a big part of helping turn a program around, getting Stanford recognized on a national scale once again after an eight- or nine-year drought. But I'm not big on lobbying or self-promotion.
DP:USC recruited you but wanted you to play linebacker?
TG: Correct. They said they'd give me a shot at running back, but they saw me more as a linebacker.
DP:Let's be honest—you're a white tailback. How many coaches are looking at you and saying, "I don't think you can play that position for me, but I think you're a football player"?
TG: I think it happens quite a bit. Coming out of high school, [I heard] the same question: Can he play tailback at the next level? And I think over the last four years I've proven I can. It'll be the same question as I get ready to enter the NFL draft.
DP:You want to play in the NFL more than in the majors?
TG: Definitely. Football is my first love, so I'm hoping I get a shot at the NFL.
DP:Have you given any thought to being a two-sport athlete in the pros?
TG: I've never really thought about it. That would be the best-case scenario, but nowadays, when people invest money in you, they want you to be committed to one sport.
DP:Do you get many comments during a game from guys who may be surprised at how good you are?
TG: Not so much this year. Last year was kind of my coming-out year, and there were a couple of times after the game where someone would come up to me and say, "Man, you can run the ball. I didn't think a white guy could do that."
DP:Is it a compliment, or does it make you angry?
TG: I take it as a compliment.
DP:You're so big that it can be hard to believe that you've really got that kind of speed. How fast are you in the 40?
TG: I'm planning on running a high 4.4 or a low 4.5 at the combine.
DP:You're capable of running a 4.4 40?
TG: I believe so. That's what my time was coming out of high school, and I'm the exact same size [I was then]. So I believe I'll be able to post really good numbers come February.
DP:You threw a touchdown pass on a halfback option against Notre Dame. It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. How would you rate your passing ability?
TG: Poor. I can throw a baseball, but I cannot throw a football. As ugly as that was, it was the prettiest one I've thrown all year.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams told me he likes it when opposing fans go crazy. Asked if he ever gets a kick out of ribbing from rivals, he told the story of last year's game against Michigan State, which was right after the Tar Heels played in Hawaii. When MSU students chanted, "Roy's been tan-ning," Williams went to the end of the bench and said to them, "Guys, it's the Maui Invitational."
Quarterbacks Tom Brady of the Patriots and Chad Henne of the Dolphins are Michigan alums, but their status as AFC East rivals trumps that. Henne told me he hasn't spoken to Brady in either of his two NFL seasons: "He usually runs off the field so fast that I don't get to talk to him."
Line of the week
Steve Nash is a huge soccer fan and a friend of Thierry Henry, whose infamous handball helped France into the World Cup. Though Nash acknowledged the violation, he took issue with the criticism Henry has received: "It's not like he left the house that morning saying he was going to cheat and win the game that night."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Oregon coach Chip Kelly on Ducks RB LeGarrette Blount.
2. TCU coach Gary Patterson discusses the BCS.
THE FINE PRINT: Urban Meyer was treated at a hospital for dehydration after Florida lost to Alabama. Turns out Tim Tebow ran out of tears and siphoned his.