Stanford announced the return of Tyler Gaffney to its football roster on Monday after the San Diego native’s foray into professional baseball. Gaffney rejoins a Cardinal backfield that is replacing its No. 1 running back for the first time since 2009.
“This is the ideal time for me to return to the Farm and complete the work toward my degree from Stanford University,” said Gaffney. “As a freshman at Stanford in 2009, I had three goals: play Football and Baseball at Stanford and receive my degree. Two of the three have been accomplished; I eagerly look forward to completing the third.
“Additionally, I intend to rejoin my Cardinal football family and play my senior year of college eligibility. As I have grown and matured over the past year, I have come to realize how much I missed my football family at Stanford and how much I missed the game of football.
“I am thankful to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for allowing me the opportunity to play professional baseball. They are a great organization, who permitted me to grow and mature in character. With the benefit of this experience, I will continue to learn about myself and follow the path where my truth will lead me.”
Stanford has had a 1000-yard back each of the last five seasons, including Toby Gerhart’s 1871-yard Heisman finalist campaign in 2009. Stepfan Taylor capably filled the void Gerhart left, improving his output each of his three seasons as the Cardinal’s No. 1 back (1137, 1330, 1530).
The return of Gaffney will give Shaw’s offense a multifaceted rushing attack in 2013.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan is the Cardinal’s leading returning rusher. The first-year signal caller took over midway through the 2012 campaign and registered 263 yards on 55 carries. Anthony Wilkerson was the most productive of Stanford’s other running backs with 224 yards, but averaged only 4.5 per carry.
Kelsey Young, a product of the same high school (Norco, Calif.) as Gerhart, rattled off over 11 yards per carry and scored two carries.
Gaffney could compete for the featured role. He factored prominently into the Cardinal ground game during the 2011 campaign, going for 449 yards on 74 carries with seven touchdowns. He’s also a proven commodity in the passing game with 12 receptions, including a touchdown, his last season at Stanford.
Gaffney batted .297 with 10 RBI and stole 11 bases for the State College Spikes, within the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Coincidentally, baseball and the Stanford backfield have a preexisting relationship. Gerhart was a Major League Baseball prospect coming out of high school and later at Stanford.