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Heisman runner-up leaving Stanford ‘early’

Way back in early December, Stanford running back Toby Gerhart seemed to tip his hand as to what direct his football future would take him following the 2009 season.

“I’m going to start training here shortly, get ready for the (NFL Draft) Combine.”

A month and a half later, the Heisman runner-up confirmed what most everybody already assumed -- he’s leaving the Cardinal for the NFL.

Gerhart made the announcement via a press release from Stanford.

“After careful thought and deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from Stanford University for the winter quarter in order to fully devote my energies towards the pursuit of my dream of playing in the NFL,” said Gerhart in a statement. “While I certainly will miss patrolling left field on the Sunken Diamond or running through the gaping holes created by my O-linemen on the gridiron at Stanford Stadium, I will forever cherish the camaraderie, friendships, and memories that I forged here at Stanford with all my friends, teammates, and coaches.

“I want to give special thanks to Coach Harbaugh for resurrecting the program, running backs coach Willie Taggart for making me the player I am today, and the Tunnel Workers Union (O-Line) for doing the dirty work which made my life easier. We’ve been through a lot of adversity during my time here, but I’m extremely proud to have been part of the class that brought Stanford football back to national prominence.

“Most of all, I wish to thank the entire student body, and Stanford fans everywhere, for the tremendous support and boundless enthusiasm they have shown us over the past four years.

“I have been blessed to have spent time at this special place and have seen first-hand how the Stanford family takes care of not just its own members, but the disadvantaged and underprivileged within our community as well. Because of that, I urge Stanford fans everywhere to join me in extending a helping hand to the devastated citizens of Haiti. They need our help now. Whether it’s a small donation of food, bottled water or medical supplies, a monetary gift to the United Nations or the Red Cross, or volunteering whatever aid you can provide, please do so. Keep all those affected and providing rescue in our thoughts and prayers.”

And, for those who were wondering about Gerhart being a senior this season, here’s a snippet of the press release from the school: Gerhart, who played in 38 career games from 2006-09, had the option of returning to Stanford as a fifth-year senior since he played in just one game as a sophomore in 2007 due to injury.