Sam Webb: First let’s look back at the year. How did your season go?
Zach Gentry: “We finished off the year 10-2. We had a first round bye in the playoffs and we lost in the semifinals to the state champion team. I think I threw for just a few yards under 3000 and I rushed for 1100. I ended up with 50 total touchdowns.”
Sam Webb: I saw those stats previously and they’re eye popping. I’m curious, your recruitment seemed to me to be bigger than your ranking. Why do you think you were kind of under the radar?
Zach Gentry: “Part of it was just being from New Mexico. They overlook me a lot, because he’s just some kid from New Mexico. That’s one of the reasons I think I slipped under the radar a little bit and also, I was invited to the Under Armour All-American game, Elite 11 and all that good stuff. I just didn’t do it. Simply because I didn’t want to get hurt and I wanted to make sure that I was there for my team this season. I think a lot of people didn’t know that I was invited to that stuff. They thought, he’s from New Mexico, he’s only a four star and he’s not invited to this stuff.”
Sam Webb: Give me a scouting report on Zach Gentry.
Zach Gentry: “I think that I can be used both in and outside the pocket, which is unique given my size. I think that I’m a good pocket quarterback. There’s always things you can improve on. I have a strong arm. I actually measured it throwing down the field 74 yards two summers ago. I have not tried to throw that far since then, so we’ll see. I think one thing that sets me apart a little bit from other quarterbacks, maybe more pro-style is, the fact that when I get outside the pocket and run with my height and everything, I clocked in at a 4.5 actually at the end of this past season. I think that’s one thing that separates me a little bit.”
Sam Webb: Wow, 4.5 and how tall are you?
Zach Gentry: “6’6-1/4, 238 pounds.”
Sam Webb: So you’re moving. Do they compare you to any college or pro quarterback that you’ve heard, Zach you’re kind of like this guy?
Zach Gentry: “I’ve had several coaches tell me that I have arm strength similar to Ryan Mallett. A more athletic Ryan Mallett that can move around a little bit.”
Sam Webb: You’re athletically gifted and you were committed to Texas for a long time. How did Michigan get into the equation?
Zach Gentry: “It was late on in the process. The reason how everything played out, I was committed to Texas for a long time. Things were changing there after their bowl game that I was well aware about, I know about the stuff. Things were changing there a little bit, so I was a little on edge, so I told them that I was going to open up my recruitment. I did it silently. I didn’t tell the media or anything. It just so happens that a couple of days after I opened it up, the Michigan coaches called me out of nowhere. I didn’t have their numbers or anything. They asked if I was interested, I said for sure. Perfect timing, I just decided to open it up. It was a good situation at that time.”
Sam Webb: When you said things were changing, like the offense was changing?
Zach Gentry: “Yeah.”
Sam Webb: So you had to squeeze a bunch of relationship building into a small period of time. What were your first impressions when you sat down with the coaches?
Zach Gentry: “It was Coach Harbaugh and Coach Fisch. Very competitive and driven guys for sure, were the two things that I saw from both of them. In fact those two guys could be some of the most competitive guys I’ve met on the recruiting trail. Definitely that, you could tell that they were passionate about what they do and they’re were excited. They were really excited about the job at Michigan and you can also tell they were able to have fun with it and care for their players at the same time.”
Sam Webb: Clearly, Jim Harbaugh being a quarterback himself, college, pro and developing quarterbacks… I imagine that played into your thinking about Michigan a bit. (Laughter)
Zach Gentry: “Well it played into it a lot. It’s huge to get a call from Jim Harbaugh just given his background, quarterback at Michigan, Heisman finalist. Played in the NFL for 15 years he said and his coaching background. The way he’s turned programs around and most recently at San Francisco, he did a great job there with Colin Kapernick and Stanford. The things he’s done with Andrew Luck and Colin, quarterbacks like that just speaks to how good of a coach he is. So that is definitely something that opened my eyes about Michigan for sure.”
Sam Webb: But you still had to actually come up and see it. What stood out most for you while you were here on the visit?
Zach Gentry: “The people I’d say. The coaches, the players and the community, all three aspects were just…everybody was just so friendly and it just felt like home and everybody was accepting. A lot of times when you take visits, you go and there is kind of an edge. It is just kind of different. When I was there, everybody was friendly, everybody was welcoming from the players to the coaches and the community for sure.”
Sam Webb: Who was your host and what players did you hang out with the most while you here in town?
Zach Gentry: “Pat Kugler was my host. I hung out with a lot of the offensive lineman. I hung out with Wilton Speight.
Sam Webb: Probably not a coincidence that you were hanging out with Pat Kugler. He was a pretty good center coming out of high school and a center in college now. Did you guys kind of talk about being a duo?
Zach Gentry: “Yeah for sure. We talked about the future a lot. It was nice. I got to hang out with those guys for several days. I hung out with several of the offensive lineman. Mason was another that I hung out with. He was a true freshman starter last year at left tackle or something like that. I got to hang out with a good amount of those guys and create a bond. I hung out with Jabrill Peppers a little bit, guys like that. It was good. We definitely all talked about the future a little bit and got to know each other.”
Sam Webb: Then you go through that, what point do you know that this is where you want to be and how and when did you tell Coach Harbaugh?
Zach Gentry: “When I initially got the call from them, I thought, this could be something special and that was always in the back of my mind, but when I visited, just after that first day, just getting to know everybody and the people involved in the program, and just seeing how comfortable I felt right away and just the knowledge. Just having the meeting with the coaches and everything they have, I was impressed with. I think I knew pretty much after the first day, but I told Coach Harbaugh I was committing at halftime of the basketball game that the recruits were at.”
Sam Webb: What was the reaction in the room when you told them?
Zach Gentry: “It was high energy. Everybody was really excited. I was getting a lot of high fives and hugs. It was an awesome experience, I’ll never forget it.”
Sam Webb: Did you ever think about how far away from home it is and hey it gets a little cold up here?
Zach Gentry: “Not really. My parents were really good about this process from the beginning. They said, wherever you feel comfortable we’ll make it work. Whatever you have to do, so I was never really too concerned about the distance. That is never something that never really concerned me. My mom’s from Iowa so I can handle the cold a little bit. It snows down here occasionally. It gets pretty cold. We’re actually higher up in elevation than Denver is. It gets pretty cold down here, so I’ll be able to acclimate pretty quickly.”
Sam Webb: It is a wide open situation, new offense, no quarterbacks with experience. What did the coaches say to you about how you might factor into the equation even as a true freshman.
Zach Gentry: “Just like you were saying, open, new offense, new everything and I’ll be getting the material here after I sign and everything. A lot of people are saying it’s going to be hard for me to get in and compete because I won’t be able to be with the team and everything, but I’ll be able to start learning the system and I’ll start doing those things and then physically and mentally preparing myself on my own down here. I’m confident that I’ll be able to do it and do a good job. Like you said, it’s going to be an open competition.”
Sam Webb: Are you doing any other sports or are you just focusing on school and getting ready for Michigan?
Zach Gentry: “I actually played basketball every year growing up since I was like three until this year, but I decided that I didn’t want to get hurt and just kind of mature mentally and physically a little bit more.”
Sam Webb: Do you make it up here any more before you actually report, or will you just come up here for good in June?
Zach Gentry: “I’m not sure. My parents might send me up here by myself at some point just to get around the coaches again and learn and hear what they have to say. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll be reporting like June 20th or something like that.”