Gentry: "It's Not Right"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Taylor Gentry certainly believed he had a strong case for receiving an additional season from the NCAA.

Taylor Gentry certainly believed he had a strong case for receiving an additional season from the NCAA.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound fullback played in five games in 2012 and missed the last eight games of the year after sustaining an injury just a few plays into the matchup with Georgia Tech.

"We sent in my request in January, and I think it was last Wednesday when I found out the news that it was denied," said Gentry. "On Monday I signed with my agent and now I'm here. I was already preparing for the NFL so my mindset was on this, but with the application I was hoping for the best and expecting the worst.

"To be honest, I was bummed out. The NCAA sent me a very generic printout of what they believed was a good answer. I'm not trying to bash the NCAA, but I didn't think it was and a lot of my coaches didn't think it was either."

"I just think that is a rule the NCAA needs to re-evaluate," Gentry added. "I never redshirted, I played as a true freshman, and I missed eight games my senior year. It's not right. I'd cut my left arm to get it back. I'd do anything to get it back."

Gentry was a prep standout for Raleigh (NC) Leesville Road High School, a 185-pound receiver who earned a Shrine Bowl selection following his senior season. However, he didn't attract a high-major Division I scholarship offer, and he believed he could play on that level so he accepted an invited walk-on offer from NC State in 2008.

He quickly proved that he could contribute on that level, playing in 13 games as a true freshman and earning a scholarship from head coach Tom O'Brien after the season. A good student in the classroom, Gentry didn't have any off-the-field issues and was elected team captain.

"I just think it's bad for the NCAA to give the ruling they did in my situation," said Gentry. "For a kid that did all the right things, maintained a high GPA... I came in as a walk-on and did everything asked of me.

"I feel like if you look at my career on and off the field you would see what a student-athlete is supposed to be, and then the NCAA says they can't give me a fifth year because I played 12 plays too many? Basically it was all because I played 12 plays against Georgia Tech. If I was injured the week earlier against Cincinnati I would have been good... there were two Duke guys who were injured in their fourth game and received it. It's not right."

Once Gentry received the ruling from the NCAA he turned his attention to the upcoming NFL draft.

"I was working out on my own and training, doing combine-related drills," he stated. "I wasn't working out with the team... I was training for this day. I've talked to a decent amount of teams out here today and my agents have also received some good feedback. I really want to prove I can catch the football. I want to show that I can be a big target and make plays for the quarterback.

"I want every scout I talk with to know that I'm a mean guy. I'm going to go 100% every play and hit someone in the mouth. I think I've proved that."

Fullback isn't a glamorous position, and it's much different than the position Gentry played prior to enrolling at NC State. He is no longer isolated in space trying to catch the football against smaller defensive backs. Now he is in the trenches, picking up blitzes, opening up holes for running backs, and occasionally catching a few passes out of the backfield.

To make the transition he had to pack on additional weight. Gentry gained over sixty pounds while at NC State, and he now weights 252 pounds, the ideal size of a NFL fullback.

"I got up a bit heavy during the year because I was also playing some d-line in that Georgia Tech game," he said. "I'm back at my weight now. Looking back, I remember when I first came in and I was about 195 pounds having to hit Butkus Award winner Aaron Curry. It was like hitting a brick wall. I knew I had to put on the weight and it's definitely helped me, not only at fullback but also on special teams."

Initially, Gentry believed his main role at NC State would be on special teams... a role that he loves. One of the Wolfpack's hardest hitters, his versatility is certainly a positive for him heading into the draft.

"I will be a special teams demon," said Gentry. "Special teams is something I can tell the scouts that I feel like will separate me. I can play wherever they want to put me... I want to play special teams. There are guys who didn't play special teams in college or didn't want to do it for their teams, but I know how to do it, I love doing it, and I'm great at it so give me a shot.

"I've also improved on special teams. As a freshman I was just running and gunning, trying to hit guys, not really making reads. But by my senior year I could tell you where the ball was going by looking at the guy in front of me. I knew where the ball was going before the ball was snapped based on where everyone lined up. That's an improvement I made."

Now the former walk-on is out to prove himself once again. He carved out a solid career at NC State and believes that if he is given the chance he will be able to do the same on the next level.

"Draft week I'm not expecting anything," he said. "I just need to get to a camp. If I get into a camp I feel like I can impress everybody."


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