Gerhart goes from long odds to Heisman finalist

While it might seem like Stanford running back Toby Gerhart burst onto the scene late in the 2009 season, he started talking about winning the Heisman Trophy with his dad before the season even started.

"My father said, 'Hey, you know you are like 750-1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy? Think I should throw $10 on you or something?'" Gerhart said.

It would have been a nice play.

The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Gerhart found out Monday, while surrounded by his Cardinal teammates, that he was one of five finalists invited to the Heisman ceremony in New York.

"It was super-exciting," he said. "Everybody was fist-pumping, chest-bumping. "

But Gerhart, a first-team All-Academic pick in the Pac-10, didn't get to celebrate long. He had to rush to an exam. In fact, he took two after he found out he was headed to New York.

What fun.

Gerhart said he hasn't been to Manhattan since he was "11 or 12," when he visited during a baseball tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Just because Gerhart is a Stanford guy doesn't mean he's going to get reservations at Per Se, go see the new David Mamet play and then hang out late at all the cool clubs.

"I don't know if I'd take the sophisticated route and go see a play," he said. "If I have any free time, I'll probably go hang out in Times Square."

He is looking forward to hanging out with his fellow finalists: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

After all the fun is over, Gerhart and Stanford need to get back to business: A Sun Bowl date on New Year's Eve with Oklahoma.

It was announced this week starting quarterback Andrew Luck is doubtful to play after surgery on the broken index finger of his throwing hand, but Gerhart said he and his teammates believe they can win with senior backup Tavita Pritchard, who has started 19 career games.

"It's definitely going to be different without Luck in the huddle but there's no doubt in my mind that Tavita is going to do well and excel," he said.

But first, he goes to New York with a chance to win the biggest individual award in college sports.

"It's something you dream about but never think you'll really get," he said.