For those willing to make it happen, the internet can unite in harmony to create a broader perspective on a prospect than typically available in one space, so in that spirit, here's everything that a Texas Longhorns fan should know about new quarterback commit Zach Gentry, who pledged on Monday.
Well, beyond the scouting report and thoughts on Gentry published in this space yesterday, that is.
It's not always easy to decipher how committable offers are from Alabama -- 247Sports reports 183 offers out in the 2015 class for the Crimson Tide, including 10 to quarterbacks. However, prior to Monday, only three of those quarterbacks were uncommitted -- Gentry, Kai Locksley, and Torrance Gibson, the latter two prospects who weren't particularly high on Alabama.
Just looking at the current offer situation provides some perspective on how much head coach Nick Saban and his offensive staff wanted Gentry. The Eldorado head coach provided even more:
"I think with Alabama, he was their number one guy as well. They were really wanted him. I think he kind of knew that Texas was his school from the relationships with coach Watson and coach Strong," Dodson said. "I think he likes everything they're going to bring to the table, the environment they're going to provide at Austin, the new attitude, he's excited bout it."
In fact, Charlie Dodson said that Gentry was supposed to call the Alabama staff on Monday, specifically Nick Saban, and that offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin had been by the school last week to check in on the 6'7 passer.
All of that adds up to support the assertion that Gentry was the most coveted quarterback on the board for Alabama at the time of his Monday pledge.
In a conversation with Scout, Gentry shared his thoughts on how he came to commit to Texas despite receiving his offer in March and having only visited the school once, for the spring game nearly a month ago:
"They offered me a couple of months ago," Zach Gentry said. "I was very excited about that. They traveled from Louisville to Texas and for them to still think about me was a big deal. I wanted to check Texas out and reconnect with the staff and how Coach Watson deals with his players.
"And I fell in love with the campus, the facilities and everything about Texas. We kept the conversations going from that point on about twice a week or so. I had a great feeling about Texas ever since that visit."
As someone who fell in love with Austin on one visit during high school, it's not hard to believe that it happened that quickly.
Equally unsurprising is the fact that head coach Charlie Strong and play caller/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson appreciated hearing the good news from Gentry:
"He was very excited, very elated - him and Coach Watson both," Gentry said. "Coach Strong was very happy and told me I was their guy. Texas is on the rise, and I am going to help them change the program. It was nice to hear that from the head guy."
Whether or not Gentry was really the top prospect on the board for the staff is probably a topic up for more debate than whether the New Mexico product was the top target of the Alabama offensive coaches -- the top target could well have been Maryland quarterback Kai Locksley, the son of the offensive coordinator for the Terrapins and a much more dynamic runner and more refined passer.
In other words, a quarterback who may have a higher ceiling because of his running ability and certainly has a higher floor because his level of competition is better, his coaching has been better, and because he's already more advanced in some ways than Gentry.
Still, pulling Locksley away from Maryland was always going to be a tough task and he hadn't visited yet, making Gentry the most likely top target for Texas to land.
Landing Locksley would have been ideal, but taking Gentry was hardly settling.
Here's the summary on Gentry from Scipio Tex in his own scouting report:
Admittedly, Gentry is not my preferred style of college QB (give me Vince Young over Peyton Manning in the college game), but given the right time and development, it's not hard to imagine the Longhorns could create their own version of Brock Osweiler/Erik Ainge/Nick Foles/Joe Flacco (insert your own preferred tall guy QB). With the right weapons around him and a Wickline OL, that's pretty damn good.
While height is a boon to QBs in seeing the field and long arms (particularly a long ulna to upper arm ratio) allow an effortless javelin effect on deep balls, the college game rewards improvisation over execution and accuracy over cannon arms. If given the right pieces and the expected growth in all facets, Gentry could flourish.
The Brock Osweiler comparison is a pretty easy one in terms of pure height and was thrown out by Eric Nahlin of Inside Texas on Monday as well:
Initial comp for Gentry to me is Brock Osweiler. Big arm, good mobility, throws well on the run and raw. https://t.co/0ugcQ0Yr3H— EricInsideTexas (@EricNahlin) May 12, 2014
Read this scouting report of Osweiler and it's practically Gentry to a T. http://t.co/KtKnsbwj7V Eerie how close they resemble each other.— EricInsideTexas (@EricNahlin) May 12, 2014
This staff, more so than the previous group is recruiting a slightly different type of quarterback than the previous staff, which had taken dual-threat quarterbacks under Mack Brown for years, with the exception of Connor Brewer in 2012 and Case McCoy in 2010.
Watson had a dual-threat quarterback in Taylor Martinez at Nebraska, an experience that ended with Watson being fired, so he wants a quarterback that looks more like Teddy Bridgewater -- capable of making some plays on the run, but mostly a pocket passer with the acumen to make the reads on the fly that are necessary in the adapted West Coast offense that Watson runs.
Suffice it to say that Gentry is 100% Watson's guy at the position.
Ian Boyd of SB Nation and Inside Texas has been watching more film on high school recruits in recent months and has been providing his own thoughts on Gentry via Twitter. They're worth reading:
On reflection I really like the offense Gentry plays in out in NM. Lots of verticals in his progressions and he's not afraid to throw 'em— Ian Boyd (@Ian_A_Boyd) May 13, 2014
Zach Gentry would be lethal in the KSU offense. Good thing that's not going to happen.— Ian Boyd (@Ian_A_Boyd) May 13, 2014
I'm encouraged by this more careful re-watch. Gentry plays in a simple, QB-friendly system but he's very effective in it.— Ian Boyd (@Ian_A_Boyd) May 13, 2014
I can see why Watson likes Gentry, he makes some reads on a micro scale that Texas will ask him to expand upon in college.— Ian Boyd (@Ian_A_Boyd) May 13, 2014
Understanding Gentry's trajectory requires some understanding of the context of his last several seasons. It turns out that his development has been slowed somewhat by his height, according to his head coach.
"He actually had a part of his kneecap that came off in between his freshman and sophomore year that they had to surgically put back on because he was growing so fast," Dodson said. "That set him back three months."
Then his ligament pulled away from his growth plate in his throwing arm (right) during his first 7-on-7 tournament.
"So he's had all kinds of issues because of him growing so fast," Dodson said.
Between those setbacks and the competition level in New Mexico, developmentally Gentry is quite a bit behind someone like Kyler Murray, whose pedigree, work ethic and available coaching resources, and competition level all combine to make for a preternaturally refined high school quarterback despite his stature, which is still slight for the position.
Now, Gentry isn't exactly Tyrone Swoopes because he is a better passer at this point, but his competition level may not be too far off from what Swoopes faced at Whitewright, if at all.
So while Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer cautioned about getting too caught up in upside in his evaluation of where Boerne quarterback Quentin Dormady is, it's hard to not appreciate the pure physical skills of Gentry:
"The thing that sticks out about Zach is that he is probably going to be a better college player than he is in high school," Dodson said. "Being (so tall) he was a little bit of a late developer. His motor skills had to catch up with his body because he grew so fast. He's 230 pounds right now. He'll be 240 next year. He's an athlete, a very good basketball player. I don't think he's reached as far as where he's going to get as far as his arm strength."
The height and length of Gentry could possibly create some issues because the moving parts are so big, but the coordination it takes to find success in basketball is the same type of coordination required to keep all processes involved in throwing a football synced up and tight together.
It deserves mentioning again -- there just aren't any quarterback prospects in the state of Texas this year with the height and potential to become as extremely difficult to bring down in the pocket as Gentry could if he continues getting stronger and maintains his mobility.
The long delay in finding a quarterback and all the turnover in the class haven't exactly left it rudderless, as defensive end commit Charles Omenihu has been an active recruiter, especially in the Metroplex with high-level targets like Malik Jefferson and Chris Warren.
The delay has, however, made the development of the class a little bit different -- there hasn't been the natural leadership in the class that Connor Brewer and Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard have provided in different years, with Brewer and Heard especially effective and active in that role.
It also makes a difference with the skill position players on offense, who want to know who they might catch passes from in college, where the potential bond with a classmate can play a bigger role than looking at the quarterbacks already on campus.
In any case, the unquestioned leader is now in place and Gentry already has his recruiting pitch ready and used it on Horns247:
"Just look at what we're doing here at Texas," Gentry said. "Look at what they did at Louisville and now imagine that domination at Texas, because it's going to happen. They're going to turn it around in Austin and bring Texas back to where they should be, which is at the top. Texas is about to have a lot of future success, so I would jump on the train while you still can."
Now Gentry just has to put it to work in the wild. One of his first targets may be Aledo's Ryan Newsome, who told me on Friday that Alabama rated him as their top slot receiver in the country among 1,000 they evaluated. He's a top target for the Texas staff in what will be a small wide receiver class, along with Houston-area product Kemah Siverand and Floridian John Burt, who seems increasingly likely to abandon his native Tallahassee to come to Austin to play his college football. Siverand still looks like a Texas-Texas A&M battle.
Putting in a good word with Cedar Hill's Damarkus Lodge might not be a bad idea, but he seems pretty set on heading on the SEC at this point -- most likely Texas A&M, but LSU and Ole Miss (he's from Mississippi originally) both stand a puncher's chance. It appears that Texas has been all but eliminated after the Horns failed to make his top 10 some time ago and have yet to secure a visit or any indication of interest in doing so from Lodge.
Bummer, since Lodge has lived up to all the hype from last spring by proving that he is indeed one of the top receivers in the country.