Minnesota Vikings: Why and How They Will Utilize Toby Gerhart Next Season

Nicolas ManzanaresContributor IFebruary 8, 2012

Toby Gerhart leaps over a defender
Toby Gerhart leaps over a defenderAdam Bettcher/Getty Images

It is a little known fact that Toby Gerhart is one of the most decorated football players to ever play high school football. He set the record for rushing yards in California history and has the third-most yardage of any high school player to ever don a helmet. 

While at Stanford, Gerhart has held the record for most rushing yards in a season, most touchdowns in a season and most touchdowns in a career. He came in second to Mark Ingram in the closest Heisman vote in college football history.

Gerhart has succeeded wherever he has played, and Vikings' fans can expect an extended role from Gerhart next season. With Adrian Peterson in question due to a significant knee injury, Gerhart will need to step up and rise to the occasion. While he may not yet be the feature back, you can bet he will be splitting the carries with Peterson more evenly.

While not quite as fast as Peterson, Gerhart is rarely ever knocked backwards, and is almost a guaranteed 4-5 yards every time he touches the ball—on top of that, he's no slow poke. When Peterson went down with the knee injury Gerhart came into the game and gashed the Redskins for a 67-yard run—the longest of the season for any ball carrier on the Vikings' roster.

Wherever Gerhart has gone, he has faced challenges and skepticism. But he always answers the naysayers the same way—by carrying the ball above and beyond expectation.

There is no reason to believe Gerhart won't succeed next year. He has the speed, power and determination to make him one of the more complete backs in the NFL today. So expect to see a whole lot more of number 32 next year.