First Person...Toby Gerhart

Sept. 3, 2008

Stanford running back Toby Gerhart opened the season on a strong note, rushing for a career high 147 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns in helping the Cardinal to a 36-28 win over Oregon State last Thursday night. Gerhart's rushing total was the 27th-best rushing performance in school-history and the best ever by a Stanford back in a season-opener.

What made the feat even more amazing was it came after some doubted if Gerhart would ever be able to play football again. The Norco, Calif.-native suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second game of last season against San Jose State, after he racked-up 140 yards on the ground.A strenuous rehabilitation schedule wrapped around a busy baseball season helped Gerhart regain strength and confidence in his knee heading into the 2008 season.

Toby took the time to talk to about his remarkable comeback, last year's baseball season and his family.

Did you ever have any doubts you would be able to come back from last year's knee injury?I never had any doubts. I was motivated to get back and prove to myself I could play on this level. So many doctors told me my knee would never be the same and I might be a step slower. That just inspired me even more.

At what point during your rehabilitation process did you start to feel totally comfortable?Halfway through baseball season. Baseball is a little bit more controlled game from the standpoint you know pretty much where you'll be running. That helped me build confidence in my knee. Halfway through the season, I didn't feel any pain at all and I didn't even think about it (the knee). During the summer, I was able to come in and do some football conditioning and do some change of direction drills.

How do you and Anthony Kimble complement each other?We complement each other in a lot of ways. When he's in, I'm always watching him to pick up little things here and there and offer my views on what I saw on the field. He does the same for me. I am more of a north-south runner, more of a power runner, I guess. Anthony is a strong runner, too, but he can also scat and juke and get to the corners to make things happen. Together, it's pretty dynamic.

You follow in the lines of some pretty impressive two-sport athletes who have played at Stanford. What is your first love, football or baseball?That's a tough one. I'd have to say football because I've been around it so long. It's so exciting to come out of the tunnel on Saturday afternoons in front of 50,000 screaming fans. You can't beat that.

What are some of your favorite memories you will take with you from this past baseball season?There are so many. Coming back the way we did after losing the first game of regionals and winning 4-5 straight and then going down and sweeping Fullerton--that was pretty sweet. The College World Series will always be special. There are so many memories and friendships. The whole year was pretty amazing.

You come from a very athletic family. What role did sports play in your life when you were young?My dad has always been a coach and our family was always around football. I'm the oldest and have five younger siblings--Garth, who's a redshirt freshman at Arizona State, triplet sisters, Teegan, Kelsey and Whitley and a younger brother, Coltin.

I remember running across the living room and catching passes from my dad. Then I was a water boy, so that gave me a chance to interact with the players. From early on, I loved football because I was around it so much. I also played baseball and basketball.

Athletics were definitely emphasized in our household. My dad always taught us to strive to be the best and work hard, even when we were playing in the backyard. Perfection is what we strived for an it has worked out pretty well for my family.

Did you and Garth have a competitive rivalry growing up?We were always competitive. That was just the nature of growing up in that kind of household. He was too heavy to play Pop Warner football and didn't start playing football until high school. We were more competitive in baseball, seeing who could hit more home runs and hit the ball farther, thinks like that. Then it became a competition of strength as our bodies developed. He's got me in the strength category but I can run faster.

What was it like growing up with triplet sisters?It's been awesome. It's crazy to think they are seniors in high school now. They've changed so much. They were always right there with us in the backyard playing tackle football. They were never too prissy to go out and play a little ball.

Teegan is coming to Stanford to play softball and Kelsey might walk-on to the softball team. Whitley is hoping to play volleyball somewhere close by so she can be near her sisters.My little brother, Coltin, is 14. He's the quarterback of the family.

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