Trieu: Zach Gentry, other Jim Harbaugh commits earn high marks

By Allen Trieu, Special to The Detroit News
Zach Gentry watches Michigan's game against Wisconsin on Saturday night.

Michigan took a big step toward filling out its 2015 class over the weekend by getting three commitments, the first three of the Jim Harbaugh era, and all were committed to other programs.

While they picked up two linemen, surprisingly the most physically-imposing commitment may have been the quarterback, Zach Gentry from Eldorado High School in Albuquerque. He stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 240 pounds.

Gentry had been committed to Texas for much of the recruiting process and Horns Digest publisher William Wilkerson had an opportunity to see him in person and came away impressed.

"Obviously the first thing you notice is just his height," Wilkerson said. "You don't see a lot of true 6-foot-7 guys walking around, especially in New Mexico. In talking to his high school coach, one of the reasons for him coming down to the Texas camps and doing some national camps was because of him never facing similar talent in New Mexico. But being 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, and sub 4.5, you don't see that a lot.

"His high school coach told him on numerous occasions he never should be tackled by one person in the state of New Mexico, that there wasn't one player in the state that should be able to take him down by themselves."

The state of Texas is one of the nation's top prep football talent producers, so the Longhorns going over to New Mexico and offering a player, a quarterback in particular, says a lot about what he showed the Longhorn staff.

"Shawn Watson (quarterbacks coach) and Charlie Strong (head coach) were the first staff from a major college to give him an offer. That solidified them as a potential landing spot for him and he really grew into loving Watson. And for him, as a quarterbacks coach to take that chance as early as he did, given how many really solid quarterbacks there are in the state, spoke volumes for the type of player he is."

While Gentry was on the radar of Texas and other programs early on, Nolan Ulizio entered his senior season with very little major college attention. After being offered and committing to Connecticut, the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Lakota West (Ohio) senior added new offers, including one from Michigan.

"He was a late bloomer," Scout Ohio analyst Dave Berk says. "His game picked up between his sophomore and junior year and he went to a couple camps prior to his senior year and showed well in those camps, but his body of work his senior year turned the tables for him as he continued to develop.

"He still has a ways to go, but he has a great frame and good feet, and does a good job getting into a good base and being able to drive guys. He gets good arm extension but needs to work on his flexibility, especially with his ankles and hips, but that's something he can work on in Michigan's strength and conditioning program."

The first commit of the three was Lake Gibson (Fla.) defensive end Reuben Jones, who was committed to Nebraska. Jones is 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, and Scout national recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg, who is based in Florida, says continuing to get in the weight room will enhance Jones' other skills.

"He's raw, but an athletic defensive end, outside linebacker type," Newberg said. "He has good short-area quickness and a good first step. He has room to develop physically, as he matures, and as he gets stronger, he has a chance to be a real good pass rusher at the next level."

And he will also be remembered as Jim Harbaugh's first commit.

Wheatley Jr. visits Michigan

Michigan hosted Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius Prep tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr. for an official visit on Tuesday, as confirmed by Go Blue Wolverine's Sam Webb. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound senior is the son of former Michigan running back and current running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley Sr. He has already taken official visits to USC, UCLA and Alabama and has one scheduled to Oregon for this weekend.

More information

Zach Gentry profile

Nolan Ulizio profile

Rueben Jones profile

Tyrone Wheatley Jr. profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.