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UNM football: Arizona State transfer Gerhart will find a role

 

After a 2013 senior season that conservatively could be described as sensational, Vista Murrieta (Calif.) High School quarterback Coltin Gerhart sorted through more than 15 scholarship offers from NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State and Wisconsin all came calling. So, too, did New Mexico.

Gerhart, the brother of former Stanford star running back Toby Gerhart, settled on Arizona State.

During his three years at ASU, though, Gerhart “kind of kept track” of the New Mexico program’s upward arc: four wins in 2014, seven in ’15, nine last fall.

Meanwhile, things in Tempe, Ariz., weren’t working out the way he’d hoped. After redshirting in 2014, he compiled no statistics for the Sun Devils — whether at quarterback or at safety, his position last year — in 2015 or 2016.

But Gerhart’s time in the Valley of the Sun was not wasted. He earned his undergraduate degree in three years, giving him the opportunity to go elsewhere as a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility.

That “elsewhere” is New Mexico.

“I remembered coach (Bob) Davie from high school,” Gerhart said Wednesday after the Lobos’ first workout of 2017 spring practice. “… (UNM’s recent success) helped in the decision to come here.”

Gerhart enrolled at UNM in January, encountering warmer weather than he would have experienced at Penn State or Wisconsin but far colder than he was accustomed to in southern California or Phoenix.

“I’m adjusting pretty well,” he said. “I’ve got friends, and I’m kind of getting into the routine of things. I’m enjoying my time, for sure.”

There is, though, this question: At what position will he be spending his time on the field?

Wednesday, Gerhart was working out with the quarterbacks. And about that senior year at Vista Murrieta: 1,733 yards passing, 1,418 yards rushing. 9.4 yards per passing attempt, 10.1 yards per carry, 45 touchdowns on the ground and through the air.

Yet, on signing day in early February, Gerhart was listed as a running back. Davie said he likely will take snaps there before spring practice is done.

“There’s multiple things we can do with him and get him involved in our offense,” Davie said.

After his three years at ASU, Gerhart said, getting involved sounds good.

“I don’t really have a preference,” he said, regarding position. “It’s kind of just a comfortability thing and (finding) a place where I can help the team and get on the field.”

Wherever he ultimately lines up, Gerhart, listed at 6 feet and 215 pounds, believes UNM’s triple option-based offense is a snug fit.

“This is the offense I prefer,” he said.

Gerhart is enrolled in UNM’s sports administration graduate program, with the intention of studying medicine after seeing how far football can take him.

Having two years of football eligibility remaining, not just one, gives him that much more opportunity to find his niche.

“Of course I’m trying to make an impact now,” he said. “But it’s nice to have two years to make a name for myself if I plan on going to the next level, rather than having one year, which won’t give a lot of confirmation.

“People might start doubting you and just say ‘You had one good year. But if you have two, you solidify yourself as a player.”

Not having seen concerted game action since high school, Gerhart is more than ready and beyond eager to play.

“It’s been a while,” he said, “and I’m champing at the bit, waiting for the moment.”‘

ON THE MOVE: Senior Jadon Boatright, the Lobos’ most experienced returnee in the secondary, has moved from cornerback to safety.

“I think everybody realizes that it’s coverage first anymore in the secondary,” Davie said. “… It’s trying to get as many coverage guys as you can on the field.”

THE NUMBERS GAME: Several current Lobos have traded in their jersey numbers for those vacated by former teammates.

Junior Delane Hart-Johnson, No. 11 in the past, now wears the No. 2 previously worn by fellow wide receiver Dameon Gamblin.

Running back Teriyon Gipson’s No. 7 jersey now belongs to redshirt freshman wide receiver Anselem Umeh.

Junior safety Bijon Parker is wearing the No. 4 jersey worn by cornerback Isaiah “I.B.” Brown.

Sophomore wide receiver Q’ Drennan has traded his No. 9 jersey for the No. 8 formerly worn by tight end Cole Gautsche.

FRIDAY: UNM spring practice, 8:45-11:15 a.m. Open to the public.

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