Previously: Last year's profiles, S Tyree Kinnel, CB Keith Washington, DE Shelton Johnson, DE Reuben Jones, OL Nolan Ulizio, OL Grant Newsome, OL Jon Runyan Jr., TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., WR Brian Cole, WR Grant Perry, RB Karan Higdon.
|Albuquerque, NM – 6'7", 240|
|Scout||4*, #278 overall
#19 QB, #1 NM
|Rivals||4*, #105 overall
#4 Pro QB, #1 NM
|ESPN||4*, #118 overall
#9 Pro QB, #1 NM
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#15 Pro QB, #1 NM
|Other Suitors||Texas, Bama, Neb, UL, OkieSt, TCU, Tenn|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Decommitted from Texas.|
People don't know what to make of Zach Gentry. Presented with a quarterback pushing 6'8" playing New Mexico football that resembles Godzilla versus Assorted Oompa-Loompas, they are intrigued. When Godzilla roars past the Oompa-Loompas for consecutive 80-yard rushing touchdowns, they start looking around for Morpheus. I mean:
A dual-threat quarterback trapped in the body of a prototypical pocket passer … one of the more unique quarterback prospects I've ever seen. There's really not a good comparison out there for him because he's such a rare breed, but the comparison he's been given of having Ryan Mallett's size with running ability is as accurate as anything I've heard.
Gentry seems like a glitch in the Matrix. These things don't go together often:
Gentry completed 60 percent of his passes during a 12-game season and threw for 2,978 yards and 26 touchdown passes while rushing for 1,057 yards and 22 scores. An athletic quarterback, Gentry concluded his high school career with 55 passing touchdowns and 47 touchdowns on the ground.
He breaks things, including English: multiple recruiting sites deployed modifiers in front of "unique" in an attempt to grasp what was going on.
As a result, Gentry was hotly pursued by a number of major programs. Texas, obviously, was one. Tennessee was highly interested in making him Tyler Bray 2.0 (this time he's sane!). And yes, the Bama offer was very much legit. 247 reported in May that the Tide's QB recruiting was "primarily focused" on Gentry, and when he dropped to Texas the question there was "where do we go from here" because they didn't really have many other targets. (Bama, being Bama, did okay for itself by snaking five star Blake Barnett away from Notre Dame.) Michigan was interested during Hoke's final year but did not offer after observing him in person.
[After THE JUMP: lots of disagreement dispersed by FINAL JUDGMENT.]
Scouts are unsure of how cohesive the reality they are experiencing when they perceive Gentry, so his scouting reports are a mishmash of conflicting takes. He's got a superior arm…
"He's got an NFL arm, … he doesn't have to wind up, the release is tight and he can throw it. … A lot of times you see young quarterbacks try to get more velocity by winding up, and they lose accuracy. With him, it's effortless. He just flicks the wrist and the accuracy and mechanics stay the same."
…or it's meh:
While his arm isn't the biggest, it's certainly strong enough to succeed at the next level. With good quarterback training, there's potential for his strength and accuracy to continue improving.
"He doesn't have a Ryan Mallett arm by any means," Henderson said. "He can't break a stop sign with a pass, but few guys can. He can hit the 25- to 30-yard deep seams on the money.
He's crazy athletic…
"The sky's the limit athletically for him. He will run by people that will surprise people. We haven't timed him lately, but he ran in the 4.6s last summer. He's kind of freakish. … I don't like calling him 6-7 because people will downplay him because they'll think about the mobility, that he must not be able to run. But he can."
"He's the No. 1 basketball player in New Mexico, and isn't even playing this year because of football, and he wants to focus on that. He could play D-I basketball no doubt about it. A lot of people don't' know that he's a 4.6 [second in the 40-yard dash] guy. That's not something made up and thrown out there - he's really a 4.6 guy."
"Overall athleticism is the main thing for him to work on, he's not going to be Colin Kaepernick running zone-reads, he's not going to break off 50 yard runs, but that's OK. … if there was an area he needs to improve on, it would be overall foot speed and athleticism."
He's really polished…
…[has] the composure and calm demeanor in the pocket you like to see. Gentry can sit in the pocket comfortably and make all the throws, hitting some advanced level throws up the seams and outside the hash marks on his highlight reel. Gentry does a nice job moving his eyes for a young signal caller and can control defenders with his eyes. He shows a good understanding of coverages and throws on time and away from defenders. Gentry has a compact and quick release, and can get the ball out on short passes.
…or he's really raw:
There's going to be a lot for [Texas OC] Shaun Watson to clean up in Gentry's game, namely his footwork. His throws are being made simply due to his arm alone and he really hasn't put the other mechanical aspects of playing the position into his arsenal yet. … going to need to live in the film room, on the chalkboard and make a lot of mistakes on the practice field as he learns to anticipate.
This confusion extended to the rankings. 24/7 dropped him from a guy well inside their top X list to a three star midway through his senior season ("has not been consistent with his accuracy … similar to Blake Bell"); a couple months later Rivals took him from outside their top X to the fringe of their top 100 ("build of a star passer… moves decently for massive size … presence in the pocket and his arm strength set him apart").
Gentry's move in the position rankings was a veritable surge—he went from 11th to 4th in their pro-style QB rankings. His senior season was a win for his ratings overall, as he jumped 44 spots in the 24/7 composite despite that site's downgrade of him.
I am here to be FINAL JUDGMENT on these matters.
- On arm strength: Gentry's film has multiple 60+ yard passes thrown on the run, some rolling to his left. FINAL JUDGMENT: Big arm. Maybe not Morris when it comes to pure velocity, but an asset. Also has upside here as he refines his technique and gets stronger. Has physics on his side in this department.
- On athleticism: He's not as fast as he looks on tape. The guys he's going up against are future time-traveling Breaking Bad guest stars instead of D-I football players. But Gentry's going to be the kind of guy who can give you the 400-700 rushing yards Harbaugh wants from his QB easily. Long speed might drop over time, but when he hits the 250 or 260 he should top out at he'll be a major asset on third and short. Harbaugh likes to run his QBs on third and short. FINAL JUDGMENT: Asset, not game-breaker. Unique ability for a guy with his other qualities.
- On polish: Guy is playing against poor competition and has yet to take a snap from under center. Barely steps into a lot of his throws; tends to drop to a 3/4ths delivery. Does have a relatively short windup. FINAL JUDGMENT: Will take a lot of work to round into shape. Consistent improvement over high school career promising; far from a finished product; has a couple of real assets already.
FINAL JUDGMENT has been rendered.
A couple of reports we have not gotten around to help reinforce said JUDGMENT if you do not trust me implicitly. Rivals's Rob Cassidy:
"The first thing you notice is the arm, he can throw ball a mile. He's got the big-arm type, not one of the biggest ever, but one of the biggest in this class.
"The accuracy looks good on tape. For a guy who's that tall, he has a compact delivery. He doesn't have as many moving parts as you'd expect when long limbs come into play."
…has excellent arm strength, and can make every throw required of a quarterback in a pro-style offense. He also has a more compact release than many long-limbed passers, allowing him to be consistent and accurate with his ball placement.
ESPN falls on the positive end of the scale and emphasizes a thing I appreciated about his highlight film:
…premium height and frame … makes a quick decisions in rhythm with routes and with quality timing. He has poise under pressure and the stature to throw with people in his face. … 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. … Displays impressive arm talent. … has moments where he will do things with the ball that jump off the screen and get you excited.
There are lot of passes on that tape on which Gentry puts the ball in a relatively small bucket, and there are an encouragingly wide variety of angles he does it with. Highlight film is not definitive, of course, but that's akin to seeing a reel of a basketball player in which he confidently finishes with both hands. It's evidence he's a bit more diverse than, say, Shane Morris, who tended to blast everything maximum speed on a line.
Orangebloods' Alex Dunlap evaluated him when he was a Texas recruit, comparing him to former NC State QB Mike Glennon and pointing out that Gentry's mechanics may not be consistent but he can get away with it:
…relies too much on his upper body in making throws and until it's fixed he'll sacrifice accuracy for it. … throws away fundamentals at times and still gets the ball into good windows. … confident in his arm and can display often sloppy mechanics.
Enormous QBs tend to have that ability, as they can generate more power from their arm alone. Glennon, FWIW, drove everyone crazy as the interception-prone guy who wasn't Russell Wilson at NC State. Subsequently he developed into a Starting QB. Tampa's starting QB, hey, it's something.
Despite the ratings ding after a senior season in which he seemed to improve rather dramatically, I'm on board with 24/7's take when they surveyed the country for 2015 recruiting class superlatives:
3-star that could play like a 5 – Zach Gentry
…Gentry is the single most unique talent in this class. He’s huge at 6-7, he has a big arm, he doesn’t have good footwork but he is also extremely athletic, he’s extremely raw, plays shoddy competition in New Mexico but he’s got a world of potential. Still following? Bottom line: Don’t be surprised if Jim Harbaugh turns Gentry into a first-round draft pick as a quarterback, but also don’t be surprised if Gentry goes the Blake Bell route and ends up at tight end either.
Many analysts disagree about how raw he actually is, but even if he is on the low end of readiness Gentry is an excellent player to have around for Michigan in particular. Harbaugh has been collecting QBs like they're Mr. Belvedere pogs* and will not have to turn to Gentry for two or three years unless things go badly awry… or Gentry continues to stomp through Tokyos, these of the Big Ten.
*[EDITOR'S NOTE: Ace says that most people don't know what either of those terms mean and that most people don't have a display wall of them in their bedroom, but Ace was in a ska band. What does he know, I say.]
Etc.: Alvin L Howard is not a fan (of some other Zach Gentry). Signing ceremony. Yeah, there was some chatter out of practice that Gentry was playing some TE. I believe it, but I don't put any stock into it. Harbaugh tries things just in case it works out. It would be foolhardy to even think about moving Gentry to another position for at least two years and probably three.
Why Cardale Jones? Jones is a tank of a quarterback with a great deep ball who is an asset as a pounding runner who specializes in converting third and fourth downs. He's not exactly dynamic when he crosses the line of scrimmage, but he's very hard to bring down and eats up yardage quickly. He was also a major question mark coming out of high school.
Other analysts have brought out Brock Osweiler. Osweiler rushed for 137 yards in his college career. I mean, yeah, he's a big white guy, but that comparison seems based on not much other than that.
Michigan comparables? Drew Henson is the closest I've got and even then that's not particularly close.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy, no projection. Big spread. No camps.
Variance: High. Hopefully Harbaugh mitigates some of the variance here by being a good QB coach. Still, anyone coming from New Mexico HS ball who hasn't gone to a bunch of camps is a guy who could fritz out when the competition level ratchets up.
Ceiling: Huge. Tebow, but fast! And able to throw! And more enthralling to ESPN! It could happen!
General Excitement Level: High. Excellent prospect, especially when combined with Harbaugh's QB juju and a depth chart that should allow him time to develop.
Projection: Redshirt. Hidden benefit of the Rudock addition even if he doesn't start is that you really do not need either freshman QB this year.
After redshirt, the most likely situation he faces in year two is an open competition after Rudock starts and departs. Sounds like John O'Korn will be a serious contender, and then you've got Morris and Speight and Malzone—if they're all still around. I don't think he'll get the not as a redshirt freshman, but if either Morris or O'Korn gets the job Gentry will be a very strong contender to start for two or three years after.