The lure of Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines flipped Gentry, as Eldorado High School’s senior quarterback — suddenly thrust in the middle of a heated recruiting battle between two of America’s most storied college football programs, Michigan and Texas — on Saturday night gave the new Wolverines coach a commitment to play for the maize and blue.
“It’s been crazy,” Gentry said in a phone interview with the Journal late Saturday night. “I do feel settled right now. It feels good ultimately laying my head on the pillow tonight thinking I’ll be Jim Harbaugh’s first quarterback recruit at Michigan.”
Gentry took his official visit to the Ann Arbor campus on Friday and Saturday. The only other official visit he had made was to Texas.
Gentry attended the Michigan-Wisconsin men’s basketball game Saturday night. At halftime, he and some other recruits were led into a room for some food and drinks at Crisler Center. He saw some football coaches, and “decided to do it then. I had talked about it with my dad (Tom) and stuff, and he told me to follow my gut.”
Moments later, he announced to his followers on Twitter: “Excited about the future! #GoBlue.”
The news was first reported by Rivals.com.
Gentry’s Twitter page — which on Friday still had a graphic related to the University of Texas — on Saturday night had a photo of Michigan Stadium, which is where he plans to be playing home games for the next few years.
The confirmation of his decision to leave UT cold seemed fairly obvious when Gentry was photographed in a Michigan shirt at the basketball game, cheering for the Wolverines.
Gentry said he de-committed from Texas about a week ago “but just kept it quiet.” He had committed to Texas last May.
“You know what, they’re changing the offense at Texas, and I wasn’t totally comfortable with that,” Gentry said. “The Michigan coaches called me a week ago, and the opportunity presented itself.”
The 6-foot-7, 238-pound QB is considered a four-star recruit by most scouting services. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns for the Eagles last season, and ran for over 1,000 yards with 22 additional scores.
His size and arm strength — and perhaps just as importantly, his mobility — have made Gentry arguably the most sought-after prep quarterback in the state’s history. Gentry has aspirations of playing in the NFL, and Harbaugh might be the coach best equipped to someday get him there.
“He kind of molded Andrew Luck into what he is today,” Gentry said. “When Jim Harbaugh is calling you, you’re excited.”
Michigan was a late comer into the recruitment of Gentry, who is rated by at least one service as one of the top-5 pro-style prep quarterbacks in the country. He could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tom Brady as a Michigan QB.
Things began in earnest on Monday when Harbaugh and some members of his coaching staff — seven of the nine new coaching faces at Michigan have NFL experience, Gentry said — flew in and met in person with Gentry.
“That was attractive to me,” Gentry said.
Harbaugh, an NFL quarterback for 14 seasons, helped groom Luck while at Stanford and Luck become a No. 1 overall draft pick at Indianapolis. Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl two years ago, where they lost to Baltimore.
Technically, Gentry will remain in play until national signing day on Feb. 4, but it appears that Texas will be the loser in this battle.
Two Texas assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, flew in to Albuquerque at midnight Friday, and, Gentry confirmed, met with him at the Sunport early Friday morning to talk with him before he boarded his flight for Detroit.
“It’s been stressful and hectic, trying to put things together,” said Gentry, last season’s New Mexico Gatorade Player of the Year.