Toby Gerhart was always used to being the lead dog in an offense.
Dating back to high school, the gigantic thumper was one of the most dominant offensive threats in the country, garnering more than 9,600 yards during his four-year tenure with Norco High School, (Cali.) making him one of the most productive backs in state history. Gerhart, who graduated class valedictorian, was named the Gatorade High School player of the year in 2005, in addition to the state’s prestigious “Mr. Football.”
His production took a bit of a backseat upon arriving in Stanford University in 2006, as he was designated as the team’s backup running back to in a forgettable 1-15 season. His production didn’t improve much the following year, thanks to a knee injury that prematurely ended his 2007 season.
In 2008, however, Gerhart made his presence felt in a big way.
The Norco native boasted a stat line that made college football fanatics across the country take notice: 1136 yards, 15 TD’s, 5.4 ypc, coupled with eight games with at least 100 yards rushing.
In 2009, Gerhart took another step, in one most productive seasons in the history of college football as he totaled 1,871 yards and a whopping 28 rushing scores, while rushing for 200 yards in an unprecedented three contests. After capturing a collection of post-season honors, Gerhart came within the slimmest of margins of taking home college football’s most illustrious prize, the Heisman Trophy, finishing second to former Alabama running back Mark Ingram Jr.
Gerhart decided to forgo an extra year of college and enter the 2010 NFL draft, where he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 51st overall selection.
He was then forced to back up Adrian Peterson, who has been widely regarded as the best back in the league since his rookie year, which, understandably, limited his playing time. He would rack up just over 1,300 yards during his four-year tenure with Minnesota.
On March 11, 2014, Gerhart signed with the burgeoning Jacksonville Jaguars organization, whom, according to multiple reports, will use him as their “bell cow” running back – which basically means he’s going to be touching the ball a whole lot.
The Jaguars have confidence that the 27 year-old can be their “Michael Turner” in an offense that still lacks a true identity and feature player. Gerhart is a rather large human being for the running back position – by today’s standards – while also possessing a surprising degree of athleticism.
He has the body to endure 20 carries a game, if need be, though the organization has high hopes that second-year man Denard Robinson, a breathtaking athlete in his own right, will take the next step in 2014 and lessen the offensive burden Gernart may be carrying into the season.
If Gerhart pans out, coupled with the proper development of Jacksonville’s young talent, the Jaguars offense may turn some heads in 2014 and beyond. General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley have done their due diligence in infusing talent into an offense that has been anemic for the last four years, and Gerhart will be looked upon as its key element entering 2014.
He is, once again, the top dog in an offense.
Let’s see what he can do.
Follow Matt on Twitter @bymattgonzales.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.