The Texas Longhorns don't normally have to wait long in a recruiting class to land a quarterback, but that was the rare case with the 2015 group, a wait that came to an end on Monday with the pledge of Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado pro-style quarterback Zach Gentry:
Kyle Henderson (@nmpreps) May 12, 2014
He later sent out the following from his own account:
Happy to say I've committed to the University of Texas today! #Hookem— Zach Gentry (@ZGentry_11) May 12, 2014
And, of course, the obligatory #LetsRide tweet from head coach Charlie Strong had a little bit of extra feeling:
Huge #LetsRide for the future of this program!— Charlie Strong (@Strong_TexasFB) May 12, 2014
In the 2007 class, the Longhorns secured an early commitment from eventual Florida signee John Brantley, who was eventually scared off by the emergence of Colt McCoy as a redshirt freshman in 2006, so it wasn't until GJ Kinne committed in late December that Texas finally found its quarterback in the class.
Every other class since then featured an early commitment, often from the top quarterback targeted by the staff, from Garrett Gilbert to Connor Wood to David Ash to Connor Brewer to Tyrone Swoopes to Jerrod Heard, a run that was more impressive on the recruiting side than it ended up being on the on-field production side.
Even the ultimately quarterback-less 2008 class had an early pledge from Southlake Carroll's Riley Dodge, who ended up following his father to North Texas.
At 6'7 and 230 pounds, Gentry has prototypical size for a pocket passer and ranks as a consensus four-star prospect, though he is ranked at 90 by 247Sports and sits at .9181 in the 247Sports Composite rankings, making him a low four-star recruit. The top player in the state of New Mexico, Gentry is the No. 6 pro-style passer and the No. 187 player nationally in the Composite.
With about 15 offers, Gentry is a national prospect. Alabama, Louisville, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, San Diego State, TCU, Tennessee, and Virginia have all offered.
A visit for the spring game back in April was the only trip to Austin that Gentry needed to end his recruitment, though it was hardly expected -- most of the predictions in the 247Sports Crystal Ball were for Tennessee, with none for Texas.
Gentry received his offer from Louisville when Strong and company with still with the Cardinals and he did camp there last summer, so assistant head coach for offense/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson is familiar with Gentry and had a prior relationship with the big passer, a relationship that ended up paying off for the Longhorns instead of the Cardinals.
There aren't many prospects to come out of the state in a given year, as Gentry is the first Texas target from New Mexico since offensive tackle Matt Hegarty in the 2011 class, a player who was also targeted by the Longhorns but ended up signing with the Fighting Irish. Not entirely coincidentally, Gentry is also the first four-star prospect from the Land of Enchantment since Hegarty.
When there's a relative lack of appealing options available in state, it's worth recruiting there on the rare occasions when a high-quality prospect does emerge.
On film, Gentry is a good athlete at the position for a pro-style passer, running for 617 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior with reported 4.68 40 speed, though he looks closer to the verified 5.02 40 that star California quarterback Josh Rosen registered at a Nike event.
Whatever his actual testing speed, Gentry is certainly not a pocket-pound passer despite his designation and has some make-you-miss ability in the open field. His height can also make the speed that he does have a little bit more deceptive, as he covers quite a bit of ground with each stride. In college, his mobility will be an asset in making off-schedule plays with his arm moving outside the pocket and moving the pocket on designed rollouts and bootlegs more so than running the zone read series.
And Eldorado moved the pocket quite a bit in 2013, utilizing Gentry's athleticism and probably covering up some deficiencies on the offensive line as well. On the run, Gentry shows of his above-average pure arm strength moving in either direction, doing a nice job of clearing his hips to throw while moving to his left.
The arm talent of Gentry is perhaps more apparent at times than it should be, as he can resort to throwing off his back foot. When given a clean pocket, however, his footwork is adequate and he's able to make a range of throws, from darts into small windows to the type of touch passes that every quarterback has to make, whether a fade route into the end zone or a lofted pass over an underneath defender.
There's a bit of the gunslinger in Gentry, but he only threw three interceptions in 286 passes as a junior, an interception rate of 1.04% that is incredibly low. It was also a significant improvement from his sophomore year, when he sat at a still-impressive 2.12% interception rate. However, this completion percentage of 55% could be a cause for concern if he ends up missing open receivers once he gets to Texas -- similar accuracy problems for Wood out of high school eventually sunk his Texas career before it ever really started.
He can drop his arm slot at times, but otherwise his mechanics are without major flaws in his throwing motion.
Other than Texas Tech commit Jarrett Stidham, a true dual-threat quarterback, there aren't any big quarterbacks currently ranked in the state -- the tallest is incoming Denton Guyer transfer Kevin Dillman, a California native who is extremely raw as a passer.
So the commitment from Gentry suggests that the staff values the pure size of Gentry and the passing lanes afforded to him because he's four inches taller than West Mesquite's Chason Virgil, the tallest of the uncommitted quarterbacks in the state with an offer from the Horns. Virgil has fallen off the radar with the new staff and currently favors Arizona State.
The only real concern for Gentry is that he'll be moving from a state with a relatively low level of competition, so there will likely be an adjustment period for him as he deals with the increased speed of the game. Fortunately for the Horns, he won't be expected to contribute early, so there will be plenty of time of his
The Horns may continue to target another quarterback in the class, likely an athlete-type of take like Fort Bend Marshall's JW Ketchum, who has some work to do to play the position in college, but could become a dynamic slot receiver. Gentry is now the 10th commit in a class that ranks No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12.