Now firmly a QB, Gerhart looking to 'run and gun' at ASU

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Gerhart prepares to throw during practice By Brad Denny Gerhart prepares to throw during practice By Brad Denny
Gerhart (3) and Manny Wilkins (5) throw during practice By Brad Denny Gerhart (3) and Manny Wilkins (5) throw during practice By Brad Denny

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Coltin Gerhart is now where he belongs.

When he initially committed to Arizona State last July, Gerhart was eyed by the Sun Devil staff to play safety. However, the athletically-gifted prep quarterback was hesitant about moving to defense.

“I’ve never wanted to play another position,” said Gerhart. “When I was given [safety] as my only opportunity, you have to roll with the punches.”

Gerhart would soon throw an impressive counter of his own. Thanks in part to a change of scenery, he put together a big senior season that ultimately got him behind center at the college level.

Following three seasons at Norco (Calif.), Gerhart transferred to Vista Murrieta after his father Todd, Norco's head coach, was not brought back to the program. During his senior year, Gerhart proceeded to throw 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions, while running for 1,418 yards and 25 scores.

"I think I had better opportunities," Gerhart said of his senior year success. "The offense fit me well. It’s very similar to this offense. The receivers I had made me look good. My line gave me protection. My overall game speed stepped up over the summer.”

That led to several schools looking to add Gerhart as a quarterback, with Nebraska at the top of that list. Ultimately, ASU followed suit and took the 6-foot, 210-pound Gerhart at his desired position.

Gerhart has now been participating in ASU's fall camp for nearly a week, and like all newcomers, the speed of the college game has been the biggest adjustment.

"It's been a big learning curve, going through a lot of trial and error," Gerhart said. “They put a lot on us during the first couple weeks of being here. It takes a while to get adjusted to the game speed. After a while, the game slows down and you start to get comfortable.” 

Some of those challenges come from offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, who often puts his quarterbacks into tough situations to see how they react.

“He’s a high energy guy that puts a lot of pressure on you," Gerhart said. "He’ll put you in some adversity. You just have to learn from it.”

One of the things that Norvell, also the team's quarterbacks coach, has been working on with Gerhart is his footwork, and there have been some struggles during process.

"My footwork have been making some of my throws a little more inaccurate than I usually am," Gerhart admitted. "Based on the way I was taught before and the way I’m taught now, everything is really timed and really precise.”

Gerhart is not alone in facing the learning curve. He was one of two highly-rated quarterbacks the Sun Devils signed in the 2014 class, along with Manny Wilkins. So far, the pair has had their ups and downs, but both have been supportive while competing.

“We learn from each other’s mistakes," Gerhart said. "We take each other’s missed opportunities and try to get the best from them.”

More competition figures to be coming next year, with ASU having verbal commits from 2015 prospects Brady White and Bryce Perkins. Consider Gerhart unfazed by the prospect of a crowded depth chart.

“Bring it on." 

Like current starter Taylor Kelly, Gerhart doesn't fit the traditional dropback quarterback mold. As Gerhart says, his top strengths come from being on the move, which is a valuable asset in ASU's scheme.

“The offense fits me perfectly," he said. “The run and gun. Being able to throw on the run. A threat to outside defenders and getting the ball downfield.”

With such athleticism, Gerhart is looking to expand his time from the backfield to the outfield.

“It has its positives and negatives," Gerhart said of playing two sports. "It is a little relaxation of the mind after football season, and the same after you get out of baseball season, being such a mental sport. I think it will work out well.”

New ASU baseball coach Tracy Smith is on board with the idea.

“He’s happy with it. He thinks it’s a pretty cool opportunity," said Gerhart. "We already discussed when I would be out there. I just have to sit down with Norvell and figure it out.”

With Kelly and redshirt junior Mike Bercovici entrenched as the team's top two quarterbacks, Gerhart's immediate future figures to be the sideline, but that doesn't mean his presence won't be felt.

“I’m going to do what I can to make the team better, with whatever opportunity I’m given."