Gentry names leader after SEC trip

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Tennessee coaches have accumulated thousands of frequent flyer miles to show Zach Gentry that he's one of the more prized targets in the 2015 signing class.

Last weekend, the quarterback from Eldorado High School flew from Albuquerque, N.M., to Knoxville with his father to return the favor.

"For sure, it was a really cool experience for my dad and I to get out there and check everything out," Gentry told InsideTennessee. "The way that they did it, it was awesome. Expectations were met."

Since the Orange & White coaches cranked up their interest in Gentry, several other suitors have joined in, including Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas. However, the past four months have yielded nothing but fond words for coach Butch Jones, offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and Tennessee from the 6-foot-6, 232-pounder.

Upon returning home and speaking with IT, Gentry didn't hesitate in naming a leader.

"Tennessee is definitely at the top," the No. 247-rated player in the Scout 300 said. "Since the offer in early December that they put out for me, they've routinely talked to me once a week. I can't remember the last time that I haven't talked to them once or twice in a week. They've showed me their interest level is high and that's made my interest level high and the fact that coach Jake has been out 3-4 times and he's going to come back again in a couple weeks and coach Jones has been out. That makes me feel like they're working really hard to recruit me, so that's something of value in my mind."

The aforementioned communication includes numerous phone calls from both sides.

"I call coach Jake sometimes in my football class in the morning," Gentry said, "and he's usually right there with coach Jones, so I usually give a shout to both of them. I have both their numbers. I usually talk to coach Jake a little bit more — coach Jones is a little bit busier. But, I talk to them both pretty regularly.

"We pretty much talk about everything. We talked about how recent workouts are going and I ask about how things in Knoxville are looking. We just talk general stuff. Sometimes we'll get down to business and talk a little bit about recruiting."

The support system on Rocky Top left an impression.

"Just the fact that every little thing for the student-athlete is covered," he said. "The meals, the housing arrangement, the academic center, the scheduling…everything seems to be right on point. They have everything under control real well."

The new Anderson Training Center is one of several structures on campus that tends to catch the eye of visiting recruits. The Scout four-star prospect hasn't invested much time seeing campuses to this point but what he saw at Tennessee earned praise.

"I think the facilities were awesome," Gentry said. "Like you said, I don't have much to compare it to because I haven't been to a lot of places in person, but I was still pretty blown away by everything from the lecture room to the weight room and the indoor and all the facilities, especially Neyland Stadium. Everything was pretty awesome."

"Since the offer in early December that they put out for me, they've routinely talked to me once a week. I can't remember the last time that I haven't talked to them once or twice in a week."

—Zach Gentry

On Saturday morning, Gentry caught a first-hand look at the Tennessee offense as the Volunteers scrimmaged on Shields-Watkins Field.

"I liked it, it was a good little indication of what they're going to be running," the top-rated prospect in New Mexico said. "I liked it a lot. I like the style of play and how they're going more uptempo and hurry-up, no-huddle and having some success throwing the ball and continuing to run a good chunk. I liked it."

Gentry told InsideTennessee earlier this year about how surprised he was at all the talent being stockpiled on Rocky Top. With this visit, he got a chance to see part of the No. 5-ranked signing class for 2014 on display.

"They're definitely weapons," Gentry said. "I got to hang out with some of those guys for awhile on Saturday — Josh Malone, Jalen (Hurd), Daniel Helm, Ethan Wolf. It was pretty awesome seeing some big-bodied guys that were super athletic and go reach out for the ball. They're definitely targets and would definitely make it a lot easier for the quarterbacks."

The quarterback position is one that a majority of universities fill their allotment of scholarships each class with just one commitment. Although he doesn't have schools marked off his list, that's not lost on the right-hander.

"I think I'm just going to commit when I'm ready, but I'm not going to wait forever to commit. Obviously the quarterback position commits early. So, I think I'm going to try to get my decision done by maybe as early as May or maybe as late as mid-summer.

"The latest I would probably do would be end of summer."

Gentry says next weekend he will travel to Stillwater to visit Oklahoma State. Alabama has its spring game on April 19, and he plans to attend. He hasn't ruled out driving to Austin to see what life as a student-athlete at Texas is like.

It's not a done deal that he'll return to Knoxville for the Orange & White game on April 12: "I'll have to look into it; I'm not sure yet."

Discuss Gentry's recruitment with InsideTennessee analysts and subscribers by clicking here.

Danny Parker is currently the Managing Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the Scout team July 2011.
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