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More Stanford spring notes: Will Gerhart return?

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Cleaning out my notes from my visit to Stanford's spring practices:

  • Coach Jim Harbaugh said he hasn't spent much time thinking about whether record-setting running back Toby Gerhart will return to the football team in the fall. Gerhart could be a high pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft. "Toby is our best football player, but nobody is irreplaceable, coaches or players, on a football team," Harbaugh said. "If Toby gets a lot of money and he wants to go play baseball, then God bless him, we'll support him. But he loves football, too. He's got a chance to be a pro running back." Gerhart started the season slowly and is now hitting .288 with two homers and 13 RBI.

  • Offensive tackle Allen Smith, a sixth-year senior, hasn't played since he tore his patella tendon the third game of the 2007 season, but he's been seeing action this spring and has looked good. Smith started 23 consecutive games since his redshirt freshman season before the injury and, if healthy, he's one of the Pac-10's best linemen and an NFL prospect. While Smith hasn't been doing all the drills, he has participated in live scrimmages. "We want to get him to fall camp," Harbaugh said.

  • Fair to say sophomore Delano Howell's from switch from running back to strong safety is going well. He's already moved up to the first team on defense, and Harbaugh becomes very animated describing Howell's style. "He's not the best form tackler on the team, but sometimes BUFF!" said Harbaugh, wildly swinging his arm and supplying sound effects. "It's just a forearm to the back of their pads and they go down. He gets 'em down. Gosh, we love him as a football player."

  • Harbaugh said Owen Marecic will be a "pure two-way player" this season, doubling at fullback and linebacker. Part of the reason for the doubling up is a fullback is only on the field for about 39 percent of the Cardinal's offensive snaps. Harbaugh went as far to say that Marecic could end up starting at middle linebacker, which means he'd displace Clinton Snyder, a fifth-year senior who has started 34 of 36 games over the past three seasons, in the lineup. "[Marecic is] one of the best players on our team," Harbaugh said. "In the first seven practices, we haven't seen a linebacker come down hill like Owen comes down hill and fill gaps and play that physically."