He added an 85-yarder two minutes later.
The headliner of a huge recruiting weekend is undoubtedly Jim Harbaugh reeling in four-star Albuquerque (NM) Eldorado QB Zach Gentry, who until recently had been a Texas commit. The Longhorns, who'd reportedly told Gentry he'd be the only QB in their class, brought in five-star Texas A&M QB commit Kyler Murray for a visit last weekend, and their new focus on dual-threat types made Gentry uncomfortable with the direction they were going with their offense, he told the Albuquerque Journal.
From that point on, Michigan put on the full-court press, sending Harbaugh and a couple assistants to visit him in New Mexico, then hosting him for his official visit this weekend, ultimately earning his commitment at halftime of the Wisconsin game:
“It’s been crazy,” Gentry said in a phone interview with the Journal late Saturday night. “I do feel settled right now. It feels good ultimately laying my head on the pillow tonight thinking I’ll be Jim Harbaugh’s first quarterback recruit at Michigan.”
Gentry took his official visit to the Ann Arbor campus on Friday and Saturday. The only other official visit he had made was to Texas.
Gentry attended the Michigan-Wisconsin men’s basketball game Saturday night. At halftime, he and some other recruits were led into a room for some food and drinks at Crisler Center. He saw some football coaches, and “decided to do it then. I had talked about it with my dad (Tom) and stuff, and he told me to follow my gut.”
Gentry became the eighth commitment in the 2015 class (Nolan Ulizio has since become the ninth), and the second at quarterback, joining early enrollee Alex Malzone.
4*, #19 QB,
4*, #4 P-QB,
4*, 83, #9 P-QB,
|3*, 88, #16 P-QB||
4*, #8 P-QB,
There's a bit of a spread here—Rivals and ESPN both consider Gentry a fringe top-100 prospect, Scout has him closer to 300th, and 247 places him as a three-star a few position ranks away from getting a fourth (Gentry is, incidentally, one spot behind Malzone in their pro-style QB rankings).
Gentry is a large dude. He's listed at either 6'6" or 6'7" and 230-237 pounds, and he might actually be even bigger than that. Here's a picture tweeted out by Nolan Ulizio from yesterday's visit—Gentry is #11 on the far right, standing next to Jake Pickard (6'6", 230) and down the line from Ulizio (#70, listed at ~6'5", 280):
— Nolan Ulizio (@NolanUlizio) January 25, 2015
He may be a legit 6'8".
Since Texas is pretty into football, in case you hadn't heard, there's a ton of stuff out there on Gentry. To get a general sense, let's start with his free Scout eval:
Gentry is an intriguing quarterback with NFL size but surprising mobility for a big man. He has a downfield arm and can make every throw but also shows the ability, when flushed out of the pocket, to run for positive yards. He looks to have a good feel in the pocket and doesn't panic when the rush comes at him. He can keep his eyes down the field and throws an accurate ball whether in or outside of the pocket-Biggins
The only weakness listed is release point—Gentry often throws from a pretty low arm slot, though that's not a huge issue since he's so tall in the first place.
There are a few common threads among Gentry's scouting reports: impressive athleticism for his size, need for mechanical improvement, and great upside. All of those are present in the report from ESPN's Tom Luginbill after Gentry committed to Texas ($):
An impressive blend of raw physical tools and outstanding measurables. Very few players of his size possess the level of athleticism he brings to the game. This is a player with an extremely high ceiling and upside for development. He's got a big arm, can make all the throws and is a deceptively good runner who is strong and difficult to tackle. He has the look of a pocket passer, but can run the zone read if need be. There is still a lot of technical polish that needs to take place over the next couple of years but Gentry has the physical traits you cannot coach.
Luginbill compared Gentry to a young Ben Roethlisberger. Orangebloods, the Texas Rivals outlet, broke out a couple NFL comparisons, the second one quite tantalizing ($):
Gentry will remind evaluators of a sturdier version of Tampa Bay Bucs second-year QB Mike Glennon. Like Glennon, Gentry is confident in his arm and can display often sloppy mechanics. Gentry is, like Glennon was - in college at least - deceptively skilled with his feet. In Glennon, this was shown in his ability to climb the ladder and manipulate a pocket, while in Gentry it is seen in his ability to operate on the move.
So, having a established that Shawn Watson would rather have the "stiff" pro-style guy, what happens when that guy has a little bit of "athletic" to him?
Well, you can go watch some Teddy Bridgewater tape and see for yourself.
Barking Carnival broke down his junior film after his initial commitment and came away impressed with his athletic ability:
Gentry is a long strider who eats up ground once he gets going and he has a reasonable amount of niftiness despite his height. Some recruiting services claim a 4.7 40, which isn't unrealistic, but he's not going to be confused with Jamelle Holloway in small space.
While Gentry doesn't project to a traditional run threat in the college game, he'll be very capable of pulling the ball down and making a defense pay if they ignore containment - sometimes even big yardage if the sea parts properly.
BC noted that Gentry is an accomplished basketball player—a 20/10 guy his junior year—and that type of athleticism usually translates well to the gridiron.
SBNation's other Texas site, Burnt Orange Nation, threw together a ton of great info on him as well, which included a couple reasons why he may not have developed as much as some of the elite QB prospects in the class:
"The thing that sticks out about Zach is that he is probably going to be a better college player than he is in high school," Dodson said. "Being (so tall) he was a little bit of a late developer. His motor skills had to catch up with his body because he grew so fast. He's 230 pounds right now. He'll be 240 next year. He's an athlete, a very good basketball player. I don't think he's reached as far as where he's going to get as far as his arm strength."
Gentry actually had some injury issues due to growing so fast; he lost three months between his freshman and sophomore seasons after surgery to repair his kneecap, then had a ligament pull away from the growth plate in his right arm later in a 7-on-7 tournament. He's played full seasons each of the last three years as best I can tell, though, so now that he's (presumably) done growing there shouldn't be lingering injury concerns.
An in-person evaluation from Horns247 gave off a distinct Cardale Jones vibe ($):
He's one of the more unique quarterback prospects I've seen since I've been doing this because you don't see many guys at his size (legitimately 6-6, 230) who move as well as he does. The way his athleticism translates to the field functionally was the most surprising aspect of Gentry's game and at the end of the day he's more so a dual-threat quarterback trapped in the body of a prototypical pocket passer, but I can't peg him into either hole.
As a runner he's got a good feel for running the zone read and Eldorado uses it a ton in its offense. He's not afraid to use his body to keep the ball between the tackles and barrel over defenders, which with his size at the high school level makes him a nightmare to deal with.
They were also impressed by his arm strength and touch, with the areas of concern his mechanics and how he'll adapt from New Mexico high school ball—not the highest quality in the country—to the college game.
ESPN is one of a couple outlets that points out a specific flaw in Gentry's mechanics, a propensity for leaving his weight on his back foot, but they note his apparant potential ($):
Accuracy: At times very strong, but can be erratic due to mechanics. When feet are set and he is in rhythm he is consistent and hits the strike zone. Can be flat footed and deliberate in his methods almost as if his back foot is nailed to the ground which limits weight transfer. He can change ball speeds and can also drop the ball in between or over the top of coverage while throwing guys open. ...
Release/Arm Strength: Displays impressive arm talent. Reminds us of David Cornwell in this regard from the 2014 class. He can be inconsistent in his delivery methods and while he has a low elbow at times, he is so tall that it isn't much of a concern. Can whip the ball a bit, but also does not always control the ball very well with consistent velocity and RPMs. This prospect can get rid of the ball quickly and has a powerful motion. This kid has moments where he will do things with the ball that jump off the screen and get you excited.
Gentry made a late rise in the Rivals rankings, at one point sneaking into the top 100 before sliding back to #105, and here's how they justified the late bump in his rating ($):
Gentry doesn't get a chance to play much stiff competition. Still, at some point, consistency must be rewarded. Gentry had the type of season you would expect from an elite quarterback playing against sub-par defenses. So while he certainly still has a little left to prove on a big stage, it's hard to knock his talent. He has always had the build of a star passer and moves decently for his massive size. His presence in the pocket and his arm strength are what set him apart, though. While we would love to see Gentry play against better competition, it's hard to argue with the film. Finding a weak spot in his game is difficult.
Given Gentry's New Mexico competition, it would've been hard for him to rise much higher in the rankings without being a truly special athlete. A couple sites noted that his stats weren't as impressive as they could've been in large part because his receivers often had a tough time hanging onto some of his high-velocity throws.
Finally, the venerable Bruce Feldman tweeted this when Michigan flipped Gentry:
Heard many coaches rave abt Zach Gentry, the big QB who committed to Michigan. Will be interesting to see how he develops w Harbaugh & Fisch
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 25, 2015
Alabama took a hard run at Gentry earlier in his recruitment, before Texas started looking at other prospects, only to be rebuffed.
Gentry held offers from Alabama, Louisville, Maryland, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, San Diego State, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, among a couple others. That list likely would've been longer if he hadn't made the early Texas commitment; until the last week, Gentry had been very firm in his pledge, and was quick to tell inquiring schools he wasn't looking around.
Eldorado has only produced one other FBS player in the Rivals era, 2011 two-star Colorado signee Tyler McCullough. They do have a little history producing quality quarterbacks, however, as former NFL QB Jim Everett—most famous for doing what so many have wanted to do to Jim Rome—is an Eldorado grad.
Gentry was New Mexico's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2014, throwing for 2978 yards and 26 TDs with a 60% completion rate and adding 1057 yards and 22 more scores on the ground, per 247. Late in the season, he had 21 pass TDs against just five picks, and his interception rate was very low in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 40 time of 4.68, which gets four FAKEs out of five. Gentry can cover ground, but I don't think he's quite that fast.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
While Gentry has considerable potential and looks like an ideal fit for what Harbaugh wants in a quarterback, it might be tough for him to work his way into the quarterback competition this fall. Shane Morris and Wilton Speight will be viable candidates who've been through college grind, while Alex Malzone will have the advantage of being on campus for spring ball. Add in the significant step up in competition from New Mexico, and Gentry may spend his first year redshirting while adjusting to the speed of the college game.
From there, all bets are off. Gentry may have the most physical potential of any Michigan quarterback, including Morris, and his size/athleticism combo could be remarkably effective at the collegiate level. His throwing ability looks good on tape even with the mechanical issues, some of which are pretty much negated by his height. He's an exciting prospect.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It's safe to say Michigan is done at quarterback for the class.
Michigan now has nine members of a 2015 class that could reach 16 or 17 total. Current needs include wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback; if the numbers work out, M could also pursue running back and safety prospects, and they're pushing for a commitment from fullback/H-back Reagan Williams, a Stanford commit who took an official this weekend.