Sunday, January 25, 2015

Zach Gentry, Wolverine

Albuquerque (NM) Eldorado quarterback Zach Gentry (image via
Albuquerque (NM) Eldorado quarterback Zach Gentry committed to Michigan on Saturday. He originally committed to Texas in May of 2014 and was solid to the Longhorns until recently. He chose Texas - and then Michigan - over offers from Alabama, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Tennessee, among others.

Gentry is a 6'6", 230 lb. prospect whom I scouted (LINK) last January when Michigan was sorting through quarterbacks for the 2015 class.

ESPN: 4-star, 83 grade, #9 pocket quarterback, #118 overall
Rivals: 4-star, #4 pro-style quarterback, #105 overall
Scout: 4-star, #19 quarterback, #278 overall
247 Sports: 3-star, 88 grade, #16 pro-style quarterback

Because he's a quarterback, some statistics:
2012: 150/281 for 2,022 yards, 17 touchdowns, 6 interceptions; 305 rushing yards, 9 touchdowns
2013: 160/286 for 1,587 yards, 9 touchdowns, 3 interceptions; 617 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns

The story with Gentry is a little bit unclear at this point. Gentry was on Michigan's radar early in the 2015 recruiting cycle and garnered a visit from then Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who watched Gentry throw and then took a pass on offering him. In the meantime, Michigan pulled in quarterback Alex Malzone, and Gentry committed to the Longhorns. He seemed solid to Texas and dismissed overtures from several schools, including Alabama. Then Harbaugh came calling, and it made Gentry rethink his decision. Depending on whom you believe, the Longhorns' continued pursuit of 247 Composite 5-star Kyler Murray (committed to Texas A&M) and 4-star Kai Locksley (committed to Florida State) was off-putting to Gentry. Or there are rumors that Texas is looking to become more of a spread option team. Or it might be that Harbaugh has a reputation for coaching up quarterbacks, whereas Texas head coach Charlie Strong has a shorter resume (albeit one including Teddy Bridgewater). Regardless of the reason(s), Gentry accepted an invitation to Ann Arbor this week, and it paid off with a flip.

In case you're wondering, Texas still has 3-star Brandon Merrick's commitment, plus the potential for one of the aforementioned players.

In reviewing Gentry's senior film, it's clear that he has a lot of upside. He has a good arm - not great - and throws a catchable ball. Accuracy is tough to gauge from highlights, but he has a decent completion percentage and doesn't throw many interceptions. It's important to remember that good high school quarterbacks often suffer from poor receivers who can't get open, drop a lot of balls, etc. (and some receivers are cursed by poor quarterback play, too, so it goes both ways). Gentry has a three-quarters delivery that might be more of a cause for concern if not for his 6'6" frame, sometimes listed as big as 6'7". In regard to throwing the ball, he looks very natural on the move and can push the ball down the field while getting out of the pocket, particularly going to his right. Moving is one of his big strengths. Gentry has very good speed, a little bit of shimmy, and some good instincts when it comes to running the ball. While he won't be a threat to take it the distance very time, he's every bit as mobile as a guy like Ohio State's Cardale Jones, who moved the chains against some good defenses with some timely scrambles.

On the negative side, Gentry has some mechanical issues aside from the arm slot. He also tends to throw off his back foot or falling to the side without stepping toward his target, which causes the ball to hang a little bit. His footwork when taking shotgun snaps needs work, and he's exclusively a shotgun/pistol guy, so getting him to drop back from under center might be a large undertaking. My biggest concern with him is that the ball rarely comes out "on time" within the framework of the play. He never plants his back foot and throws. I am not a fan of the way his team's routes are designed and plays are run, and these are not the complicated route combinations he will be seeing in college. New Mexico is not known for its football, and it shows - not only in his own team, which lacks refinement, but also in the play of his opponents.

Overall, Gentry is a high-quality commitment for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh, but he's also a boom-or-bust type. He'll be a long way from home, learning an offense with pro-level reads and combinations, and competing with several other guys for playing time. At the same time, he will either be the most gifted (or second-most behind Shane Morris) athlete at the position. The whole playbook is open for a guy like this, who can throw it deep, throw it short, stand in the pocket, roll out, scramble, or do some designed runs. Fellow 2015 classmate Alex Malzone is more refined and ready right now, while Gentry has the better long-term potential. For better or worse, watching Gentry's film reminded me of Utah quarterback Travis Wilson.

This gives Michigan eight commits in the 2015 class, and Gentry follows defensive end Reuben Jones as the only two guys (so far) to commit to Jim Harbaugh. Word has spread that Harbaugh could very well go after two quarterbacks in each class, and this starts off that trend with a bang. Five of the eight commits are offensive players. According to the Bentley Historical Library, this is just the second Michigan commit out of New Mexico in over a hundred years, with just defensive tackle Alan Branch coming out of Rio Rancho (NM) Cibola in that time.

TTB Rating: 84 (ratings explanation)


  1. Magnus—does the two-QBs-in-every-class thing assume some attrition from guys who are low on the depth chart? I imagine there are not a lot of teams with 8 to 10 scholarship QBs on campus at any given time?

  2. Nice evaluation and thanks for posting his highlight film. He looks like Gentry the Giant compared to the rest of those New Mexico high school kids. He made some nice cuts while running and I was surprised by how well he moves for a big kid.

  3. I've been advocating for 2 QBs in this class rather strongly. The idea that Harbaugh will take 2 in EVERY class seems unrealistic.

  4. Gentry is a great land at this point in the recruiting cycle. Kudos to this staff for taking advantage of the opportunity.

    He does sound like a bit of a boom bust type of player, which is just fine.

    Given his size I think it's also feasible that he eventually ends up making a Mignery/Riemersma conversion to TE if QB ends up not working out. Nice to have any good athlete with that kind of size.

    1. This kid is a QB all the way, and a true blue chipper. I don't see him happily riding the pine a la Bellomy or moving to TE if he gets beat out, unless he has an injury a la Riemersma that dictates it. He is talented enough to give QB a go at another school if UM does not work out for him.

    2. That's a bit of a stretch PS. Rosen is a true blue-chipper. Henne and Mallet were true blue-chippers. Gentry is more of a boom/bust guy.

      More importantly, we'll know a lot more when he arrives on campus. Terry Richardson was a TRUE blue-chipper with offers from anyone and everyone as a recruit, but going to another school isn't necessarily an answer from him.

      By no means am I saying it won't work at QB, but there is a chance it won't. In which case it's nice to fall back on being big, tall, and reasonably fast.

    3. You can't compare QB's to other positions. When 4* QB's (who are being recruited by the likes of UM, Bama, and Texas) get passed up, they tend to transfer these days. They don't move to TE.

  5. Hey Thunder -- if you had to give the percent chance of each potential starting QB for 2015 what would it be. I think mine goes:

    Morris 45%
    Speight 25%
    Malzone 15%
    Gentry 10%
    Other (Bellomy, a walk-on, or a transfer) 5%

    1. I personally do not see Morris holding on. He is going into his junior year and he still sucks, and now he has to work with a new coach and system.

      No matter who starts from the beginning, I think the QB position will be an on-going battle that may not be settled until well into B1G play. Speight, Malzone, and Gentry will all be given a shot.

      I don't see JH playing it conservative in this case either. He will be willing to play the most talented player, even if it means more growing pains.

    2. Obviously Morris hasn't been impressive. But he was easily ahead of Speight and Bellomy. Malzone doesn't have the recruiting profile to indicate that he can come in and start as a true freshman and do better.

      I would not presume that Harbaugh playing the most talented guy means it's not Morris.

      I think it's wide open, but I hope somebody emerges and we don't have to drag out a season-long QB controversy. The early part of the schedule is too difficult to deal with a lot of turmoil.

    3. I don't know if Morris was easily ahead of anyone. They delayed putting him in for as long as possible. Borges has told people after leaving that he though Speight was the future at the position. And the BTN crew thought Speight looked better than Morris when they observed practice. From my eyes, Morris can't hit the broad side of a barn and really has not played good football since his soph year of HS. I am not presuming anything, that's just my opinion. I like all three of the younger guys' film over Morris, primarily because they show good accuracy/touch and pretty good pocket awareness, which I value over the canon arm.

  6. He certainly has the height and can move really well for someone so tall. Hope he doesn't need to play until later on towards his time as an upper classman so his mechanics can be worked out.

  7. What about moving to TE? Now I have to admit I'd love to see this kid develop into what Cordale Jones was able to do this a giant monster with a cannon arm that cannot be stopped. However, I think Morris wins the job this year and next year. Also next year we get some high rated young QB that can red shirt during Morris' last year. Then it's a battle between O'Korn, Malzone and whoever the new 4/5 star kid is, all the while Gentry could move to TE and be a huge weapon. I know it's very early to look that far ahead but just a thought.