Recently, BYU offensive line coach Mike Empey flew out to Colorado to visit Columbine High School offensive lineman J.T. Gentry in his home. Meeting and speaking with Coach Empey was a great experience for Gentry.
“Coach Empey is awesome and a really great guy,” said Gentry. “From a football perspective, [I liked] the way he talked about how he’s going to coach the o-line there at BYU. From a personal perspective he’s a really great guy, and you can tell he really cares about the team and the players. He’s just an overall really great guy.”
All one needs to do is observe Gentry’s film to know why Coach Empey made the flight out to the Rocky Mountain state. Gentry is big, quick, and aggressive on the field, pancaking opponents almost at will.
“He talked about how in years past BYU had these big, aggressive offensive lineman, and that Coach Tujague did a great job of getting them to that level again,” said Gentry. “He wants to continue that style of play and have those big, mean, nasty offensive lineman knocking guys around on the field. That’s the kind of game I like to play as you can see from my film. Off the field I’m a nice kid, but when I get on the field I’m an aggressive kid and have that same mentality. It would be nice to play for someone with that kind of coaching mentality and expectation.”
Acquiring a better understanding of how to play in the trenches came from former Denver Bronco offensive lineman Chirs Kuper. Kuper saw Gentry’s footwork and aggression and felt a switch to the offensive side of the ball would suit his skill set well. In the end, he was right.
“Chris Kuper was an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos a few years ago,” said Gentry. “He was an All-Pro a few years ago. He’s a stud. Being coached by Chris has been a great experience for me. I don’t know if you know this or not, but I started playing on the offensive line my junior year. I just started putting on weight and I’m really a late bloomer. Being coached all the fundamentals on the offensive line and learning all the intricate details by a guy who knows what he’s doing is awesome. To get all the techniques of hand strikes, footwork, and everything in between from him on a daily bases is incredible.”
While Gentry is the type of football player Coach Empey is looking for to man his front line, he hasn’t received a scholarship offer from BYU yet. That could all change soon.
“No, BYU hasn’t offered me a scholarship yet,” said Gentry. “I’m going on my official visit this weekend (editors note- Gentry is on campus now), and there has been a lot of communication over the past couple of weeks. I’m hoping they do extend an offer soon though. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that is the case.”
Chances are Gentry will receive an offer while on BYU’s campus for his official visit this weekend. His father played basketball at BYU during the years of 1986-87 then 1989-90, so J.T. Gentry grew up a BYU fan ever since he could remember.
“Well, honestly I’ve been a BYU fan ever since I could remember,” said Gentry. “Since the time I was five years old and as long as I could remember I’ve watched BYU games. I know all the BYU history over the past years that I’ve been alive. It would be an incredible experience getting an offer from BYU. It would mean a lot to me. It would be like a late Christmas present for me. To get that offer would just be awesome!”
While on his official visit, he hopes to use the experience to gain a better understanding of what BYU has to offer. Then, of course, he hopes to receive that scholarship offer.
“Getting on campus is going to be a lot of fun,” Gentry said. “I’ve been on BYU’s campus in the past just for camps and stuff like that. I want to get back on campus and meet the current players and be able to meet with more coaches, see college life there, go through some of the academic things that are available, and get a feel for the campus. I just want to learn as much as I can to get a feel for things.”
As of right now he has an offer from Air Force and is garnering a lot of attention from Ivy League schools, which don't offer athletic scholarships.
“I have a couple of Ivy League offers,” said Gentry. “I have an offer from Penn, and I’m receiving interest from Yale, Harvard, Columbia and then some other Ivy League. I have an offer from Air Force and I’m receiving interest from BYU, which I hope turns into an offer.”
Gentry currently holds a 4.35 GPA, so it’s easy to understand why the Ivy League schools are in heavy pursuit. Still, if the call for his services came down from BYU in the form of a scholarship offer, it would be a situation hard for Gentry to pass up.
“I would be ecstatic if BYU extends me that scholarship offer,” said Gentry. “And saying that I would be ecstatic would be an understatement. Being able to go to a school where my father and grandfather went to would continue the bloodlines of BYU in our family. Yeah, it would be a great day for me.”
Other in-state colleges such as Colorado have taken recent interest in Gentry. However, because he plans on serving a two-year LDS mission many have backed off.
“I plan on serving a mission and I’m talking with the coaches about that,” said Gentry. “My guess would be sooner rather than later, so I would probably leave right out of high school.”