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Eldorado’s Gentry feels wanted by Harbaugh, Michigan

YODICE-James_2012Zach Gentry’s numbers are, by now, practically second-hand knowledge.

But, we are not here today to discuss whether he is 6-foot-this or that he runs the 40 in 4.that, or that he threw for this many yards, or ran for that many touchdowns.

Rather, I’d like to throw out a number you’ve likely never heard before about Gentry, who at 7:08 Wednesday morning officially fired off his national letter of intent from Albuquerque to Ann Arbor, thus completing the segue from Eldorado Eagle to Michigan Wolverine.

The number is 62.

That, Gentry said Wednesday in an astonishing revelation, is the number of quarterbacks new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh told Gentry he looked at before deciding that this particular quarterback was his primary target for the signing Class of 2015.

“That’s what stuck with me,” Gentry said following a purely ceremonial signing Wednesday afternoon at Eldorado. “Sixty-two quarterbacks. And he said I was his guy. That was impressive to me, that he had that kind of faith in me.”

There was no way to independently confirm the 62 with Harbaugh; the Journal made several attempts to interview him directly about Gentry, but Michigan said Harbaugh would unavailable.

This is part of what Harbaugh said Wednesday about Gentry at a press conference in Ann Arbor:

“Zach is … very talented,” Harbaugh said. “He is very fast, he has some real physical attributes that not every quarterback has, and he is somebody that works extremely hard at the game — especially during the offseason — on his technique, on his throwing.”

The other QB recruit for Michigan is a Detroit-area kid, Alex Malzone, who committed in his junior year when Brady Hoke was still the coach. Like Gentry is to New Mexico, Malzone was Michigan’s player of the year last season.

Malzone has will have one distinct advantage on Gentry: he’s already is enrolled at Michigan and will get to take part in spring drills.

There are, Harbaugh said, five quarterbacks in the Michigan fold not including Gentry, who arrives in Ann Arbor in June. Harbaugh got a question Wednesday about who would start next fall.

“Well,” he said, “it’s got to take a lot. … Who moves the team the best? Who turns it over less? Who takes care of the football? Who can rally his team? All that will be played out on the football field. It’s a meritocracy at its best.”

Gentry said Harbaugh likewise told him the QB position is wide open.

“I think for sure I could (play right away),” Gentry said. “That’s obviously the goal. They’re gonna play the best quarterback, and I think that’s the way it should be.”

Harbaugh’s pro-style offense was perhaps the item on Gentry’s checklist that most appealed to him during a crazy couple of weeks during which he became shaky on Texas — where he had verbally committed last May. Texas’ offense, Gentry told me the night he flipped to Michigan, was being tweaked, and he was less than enthused about its direction.

Which makes his recruitment so much about timing.

It was a Sunday, 2½ weeks ago, Jan. 18, that the Gentrys got a phone call they never expected.

“Out of the blue,” said Tom Gentry, Zach’s father.

It was Harbaugh. He wanted to come to Albuquerque. Which he did, the following afternoon.

“We definitely cleaned the house,” Tom Gentry said with a laugh.

Harbaugh spent a few hours with the family.

“He had a really unique presence about him,” Zach said. “You could tell right away that he was hyper-competitive and driven, just from the way he talks about football.”

During the visit, Harbaugh and Zach Gentry compared hand sizes, and wingspans. The two even threw the football a bit in front of Gentry’s house.

“I was thinking, ‘I wonder if the people driving by are noticing that this is Jim Harbaugh,’ ” Zach Gentry said, smiling.

Now, a new phase of Gentry’s life begins. Soon, he’ll receive  Michigan’s playbook, and get to work as best he can, being 1,500-plus miles from Ann Arbor.

“It’s pro-style, and you don’t see a lot of it in college anymore,” Tom Gentry said. “That suits Zach’s talents perfectly.”

This figures to be a rebuild at Michigan. ESPN on Wednesday rated the Wolverines’ recruiting class 14th out of 14 schools in the Big Ten. (Not that this matters, but Texas’ class was rated No. 1 in the Big 12.)

“I’m definitely comfortable being part of the rebuild,” Gentry said. “I knew what I was getting myself into.”

And so now, this part of the Zach Gentry story is over. The next time we see him in pads will be on a TV set. If his zigzag recruiting tale has worn on him, you’d never know it.

“He doesn’t show the stress,” his father said. “It takes a lot to cause stress for him. He really is remarkable, the way he handles the pressure.”

Words, I would imagine, the Michigan faithful will be glad to hear.

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