2018 Season Countdown: #14 Zach Gentry

2018 Season Countdown: #14 Zach Gentry


August 14, 2018

Zach Gentry (image via 247 Sports)

Name: Zach Gentry
Height: 6’8″
Weight: 262 lbs.
High school: Albuquerque (NM) Eldorado
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #83
Last year: I ranked Gentry #50 and said he would be a backup tight end (LINK). He caught 17 passes for 303 yards (17.8 yards/catch) and 2 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 84

Based on the 2016 season, it looked like Ian Bunting would be the starting tight end after Jake Butt graduated. Somehow Bunting worked his way down the depth chart while Gentry and Sean McKeon moved up. Gentry had flashed in the spring game, and he picked up where he left off by averaging 17.8 yards per catch. Four of his 17 catches went for 30+ yards. He’s 6’8″ and can run very well for someone his size. He’s a complete mismatch for defenses, and in my opinion, he could be another Mackey Award winner in the making.

One thing standing in the way of his earning the Mackey Award is McKeon. McKeon had almost twice as many receptions, even though he was less productive with those catches. And although McKeon is thought to be the more well rounded of the two, Gentry is a playmaking threat that teams have to account for on every play. It’s not often you can find a tight end who can get you 18 yards per catch. Gentry can be a big-play guy and a red zone threat, and he also improved his blocking. I also believe he can be effective on RPOs if Michigan decides to go that direction with quarterback Shea Patterson. I think this could be a breakout year for Gentry, and maybe it will be good enough for him to leave early for the NFL.

Prediction: Part-time starting tight end; 25 catches for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns

12 comments

  1. Comments: 849
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Aug 14, 2018 at 8:09 AM

    Considering he had 17 catches last year when our quarterbacking was lousy and he was less experienced, I would hope for even better than 25 catches from Gentry this year. Even with McKeon in the picture, if we’re not getting the ball at least 30-35 times to a 6’8” TE who can run, we’re underusing him.

    • Comments: 963
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Aug 14, 2018 at 8:58 AM

      I’m not so sure about that. We’ve got a new QB, and the ball will be shared with other than McKeon: DPJ, Black, Perry, Collins, Martin, and at least two RBs
      I think Thunder’s prediction is realistic, and based on team production, not just individual hope

      • Comments: 849
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Aug 14, 2018 at 9:08 AM

        Sure, but tight ends always have to share catches with other positions. Nevertheless, our best ones still get a lot more than 25 catches. If Gentry is going to be good enough to leave early, he should too.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2614
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Aug 14, 2018 at 9:28 AM

          a) Gentry isn’t even necessarily the #1 target among tight ends. Sean McKeon had more receptions last year. This isn’t a team where the top TE (such as Jake Butt) hogs all the TE targets. The targets for TEs are going to be split.

          b) People always mix up “leaving early” for “being awesomely productive.” Gentry doesn’t need 50 or 60 catches for him to be lured into the NFL. He’s going into his fourth college season, and if NFL teams see another season where a 6’8″, 262 lb. TE in a pro-style offense can average almost 18 yards/catch (or at least shows the athleticism to do that), they’re probably going to be interested. UCF’s Jordan Akins caught 32 passes last year and came out early to be a 3rd round pick.

          • Comments: 1145
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Aug 14, 2018 at 11:28 AM

            I do think we’ll throw the ball around more than we did last year if only because we have a significantly more mobile QB and potential a better offensive line and understandable scheme for pass blocking.

            I can see a scenario where our top six receivers are all very near four a game. I’d be spreading it around in a big way with this group. I can’t believe Harbaugh won’t.

            I also think that Gentry is our third slot guy. And not in a way like 1,2,3, but rather like 1a, 1b, 1c.

          • Comments: 849
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Aug 14, 2018 at 11:45 AM

            I guess I’m not clear on exactly what you’re predicting for Gentry. With better quarterbacking (maybe much better) and another year of experience, how is only seven more catches and a lower YPC average than last year going to look like a “breakout season”? If a guy who is good enough to be drafted after three years isn’t our top target at TE, he darn well ought to be.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 2614
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Aug 14, 2018 at 11:54 AM

              What I’m predicting is what’s after the bold-faced “Prediction:” in the OP.

              • Comments: 849
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                WindyCityBlue
                Aug 14, 2018 at 3:21 PM

                Yes, I got that part. I’m just not sure why you expect so little from him, when you think he’s ready for a “breakout season”. What you predict is not a significantly better performance from him, and certainly not something that will make NFL scouts drool over him.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3828
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Aug 14, 2018 at 3:46 PM

                  It’s not contradictory to say something optimistic “could” happen while predicting something more modest “will” happen.

                  Jake Butt won the Mackey with just 546 yards and 4 TDs.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 3828
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 14, 2018 at 3:24 PM

    My opinion is this:

    Michigan badly needs Gentry and/or Eubanks to step up as blockers. Thusfar, Gentry’s blocking has drawn mixed reviews at best and Eubanks is entirely untested. Right now, McKeon seems like the only proven option for an every-down in-line TE. Someone who can be an asset both in the run game and as a pass-catcher.

    A lot will be asked of McKeon. He may have to be an every-down player. Over the years Michigan has shown a preference for using at least 1 in-line TE on nearly every down, and frequently using a flex to complement him.

    While, McKeon and Gentry seem like an excellent combo, there has generally been frequent rotation at TE. Even in 2016 (when Jake Butt seemed to rarely come off the field) Asiasi, Bunting, and Wheatley all had meaningful roles.

    With 3 TEs who are not freshman Michigan’s TE depth is very precarious. Wheatley’s departure makes it critical that Gentry or Eubanks can play in-line (i.e., block consistently). Yes Jake Butt did it without being a good blocker, but he at least was generally lined up next to somebody who ended up playing OL in the NFL.

    Gentry may make more highlights, but until he becomes a blocker I see McKeon as the more critical player. Both are really important to this year’s team success but McKeon’s role as an every-down player feels like it would be harder to replace than Gentry’s play-making.

    ——————————————————

    The lack of depth behind the 3 returning TEs begets some questions. Most pertinent: Who will rotate in and step up if someone is dinged?

    Maybe Muhammed can be ready as a freshman. Perhaps a FB can be deployed as an H-back (functioning as a flex TE). Perhaps a 6th OL will be enlisted more often.

    More dramatic (and less likely IMO) — Perhaps the offense will change to demphasize TE blocking.

    Something I’m interesting in keeping an eye on in the cupcake games post-Notre Dame…

    • Comments: 4
      Joined: 9/4/2015
      Blue4life
      Aug 15, 2018 at 12:22 AM

      I thought this guy was long gone. I was rolling through the comments when I came across this dissertation on the TE situation. I can’t wait for Lanknows opinion on the Oline and WRs.

  3. Comments: 10
    Joined: 10/3/2015
    UM2013
    Aug 15, 2018 at 12:48 PM

    Honestly, what is the issue with Lanknows? You don’t necessarily have to agree with his opinion but he provides lengthy, well-written, informative arguments and undoubtedly increases the amount of content here. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I find the countdown to be far more enjoyable with a greater quantity of comments on each post, regardless of whether or not I agree with them.

    As for Gentry, I too had McKeon ranked above him, albeit very slightly. Gentry seems to present a higher ceiling for the position, although McKeon is no slouch either – if I recall he posted an excellent SPARQ score as a recruit and seems to be on pace for an NFL career as well.

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