Toby Gerhart has been The University of Stanford’s standout running back for the past two college seasons (played four years total). Gerhart, finished his collegiate career with 3,522 yards rushing. This is second on Stanford’s all-time career rushing list. His 43 rushing touchdowns rate first all-time in the University of Stanford’s school history, and finished the 2009 season with 27 rushing TDs. He earned All- American honors and was named The PAC- 10 Offensive player of the year for 2009. Gerhart finished second in the balloting for the 2009 Heisman Trophy, 28 points behind the eventual winner Mark Ingram. The 28 point lose to Ingram was the closet Heisman race in its storied history.
Now on paper most teams would be thrilled at the prospect of drafting a player with such credentials as Gerharts. However, there is a slight problem, he’s white. The fact is that not one running back that is starting in the NFL is white. In the last 25 years not one “white” running back has been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, that has not been turned into a fullback once reaching the NFL level. The last white running back to be drafted in the first round was John Cappelletti, who played for Penn State. Drafted by the Rams with the 11th overall pick in the 1974 NFL Draft. Cappelletti had a less than impressive career, rushing for just 2,951 yards in nine seasons. The stigma that has plagued the NFL for some time now is that white men cannot run. There have already been reporters and television personalities say that Gerhart will have to become an excellent blocker and role player to succeed in the NFL. This is shameful statements to say about a “running back” that is one of the best in college football. Of course, not many will say the reason for these kinds of comments (Gerhart being white), because of fear of reprisal that may come. It is reported by ESPN that Gerhart runs in the range of a 4.5 40 yard dash time, six feet one inch tall and at 235 pounds. If he were African-American, Gerhart would be labeled a dynamic power running back. However, put the “white” after his stats, speed and size; all of a sudden he becomes a short yardage back that can become a great run and pass blocker. ESPN’s draft gurus Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have Gerhart going in the late 2nd, early 3rd round of the NFL Draft. However, they say whether he is drafted as a running back or full back depends on his 40 yard dash time that he will run at the NFL combine.
I have a feeling though, if he were to be African – American, being drafted as a FB would not be in the conversation. Don’t believe me? LeGarrette Blount, RB at the University of Oregon, is six-two, 246 pounds and is said to run a 4.5-4.6 forty yard dash (which is similar to Gerhart). Yet there has been no talk about him possibly being drafted as a fullback. The stereotypical double standard will be on full display during the 2010 NFL Draft, but shhh! Don’t say anything.