CLARIFICATION: I wanted to clarify something after reading a few comments below. Gerhart never said he was disappointed to be drafted by the Vikings. Just the opposite. He is extremely excited that the Vikings selected him. He was just indicating that for a second he thought he was heading to Houston on draft day. Sorry if there was any confusion on that topic.
Our profile of rookie running back Toby Gerhart ran in the Sunday sports section. The package was print exclusive, meaning it won't be online until mid week.
I wanted to pass along a few things that didn't make the final version of the story, starting with Gerhart's reaction when the Vikings traded up to take him in the second round with the 51st overall pick.
Gerhart's father, Todd, said teams they thought Toby could up end with before the draft were the Texans, Ravens or possibly the Packers. The Texans obviously needed a running back and when their selection came in the second round Gerhart's phone rang.
"Houston was definitely one of the teams we thought and it was their pick," Toby Gerhart said. "They were on the clock and my phone was ringing. Automatically we thought it was Houston. Everybody was yelling, 'Yeah it’s Houston' in the background. I was like 'No, it’s Minnesota.''
Vikings vice president of player personel Rick Spielman was on the other end and told him the Vikings were going to make a move and select him. Gerhart's mother Lori replayed the scene in the family's living room.
"We were laughing because when he got the phone call Houston was still on the clock," she said. "We all thought it was Houston. I turned to his girlfriend and we were talking about living in Texas. Toby looks over and goes, ‘It’s the Vikings.’"
The Texans took Auburn running back Ben Tate seven picks later.
Former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci recruited Todd Gerhart to play at Cal State Fullerton years ago as an assistant coach and has remained friends with the family. Mariucci called the Gerhart house the day of the draft.
"I told Toby I was very proud of how he’s conducted himself over this last year," said Mariucci, who is now an analyst with the NFL Network. "I’m really happy that he’s chosen to finish his school. He’s one of those guys that can multi-task."
Mariucci believes Gerhart will have a meaningful role in the offense as a rookie.
"Toby is a different type of back than Chester Taylor is, but I don’t see him sitting around," Mariucci said. "I see him playing on special teams and in the backfield giving Adrian Peterson a rest at times as a 1-2 punch. He’ll learn their system very quickly. He can catch the ball. He can run the ball in the one-back set. He’ll definitely contribute."
High praise from Harbaugh
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh knows Gerhart as well as any coach, but he admits he worried about how Gerhart would handle all the time demands as a Heisman Trophy candidate last season. Gerhart made the awards show circuit while preparing for a bowl game against Oklahoma.
Gerhart rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against Oklahoma.
"He won the Doak Walker, went to the Heisman and all the hype surrounding him, you’re kind of wondering, ‘How is he going to handle this?' " Harbaugh said. "How is he going to come back and practice and prepare for our bowl game against Oklahoma? It was seemless. It was like he did every week. I was a little worried about it, but in the game he ran hard against a defense that had nine guys in the box. I called him up [in the locker room] after that and said, ‘You know what? That was a studly performance. That’s who you are, an ultimate competitor.’"