UM's Gentry catching on fast at tight end

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Bowl practices often are used to try players at different positions.

Several weeks ago, Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said 6-foot-7, 244-pound quarterback Zach Gentry might get reps at tight end as the Wolverines prepare for their Citrus Bowl matchup against Florida.

Harbaugh said Gentry has been getting snaps at tight end. He also said defensive end Reuben Jones has been working at inside linebacker and added a few others he didn’t specifically name also trying new spots.

“(Gentry’s) really caught on fast,” Harbaugh said. “He really sees it, the entire football big picture. He learns fast.”

The move to tight end is not definitive right now for the quarterback from New Mexico, who had been committed to Texas before he opted to sign with Michigan.

“I don’t dictate where the fellas compete,” Harbaugh said. “There’s some experimentation going on, yeah.”

Tight end Jake Butt said Tuesday night that Gentry is adapting quickly to the position.

“He might be the tallest tight end we have so I can’t really say he looks like a quarterback playing tight end,” Butt said, laughing. “He’s fast, too. He’s a fast guy, a quarterback, so he’s a smart guy.

“He’s a quick learner. He’s picking up on it really fast and it’s just something that will come with time. It’s a transition that’s been done before. It’s not going to happen overnight, but Zach’s a great player, a great athlete, and I think he’ll be able to make that transition pretty smoothly.”

Brown was always No. 1

The first time Harbaugh met his new defensive coordinator, Don Brown, was last Sunday.

But because of Brown’s track record and the input received by a number of people, Harbaugh felt sure of the decision to make an offer.

“He was the only person I offered the job to,” Harbaugh said. “He was my top choice.”

Brown, 60, spent the last three seasons as Boston College’s defensive coordinator. The Eagles ranked first nationally in total defense and in a number of defensive categories.

“The first way (of researching was), looking up good defenses, it’s an easy one to spot,” Harbaugh said, laughing. “It was No. 1 in the country, it was right there at the top of the list in several categories.”

Brown has the option of attending the Citrus Bowl and getting to know the players and staff or, Harbaugh said, he will use this time to tie up loose ends before moving here.

Partridge is a star

When defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin left Michigan to become coach at Maryland, Chris Partridge moved from director of player personnel to linebackers coach for the bowl season.

But with the hiring of Brown as the new defensive coordinator, there currently is no room on the coaching staff for Partridge beyond the bowl.

Harbaugh said he very much would like to have Partridge on his coaching staff.

“He’s doing an amazing job,” Harbaugh said. “If I had another spot on the coaching staff then it would be Chris Partridge, I really have been that impressed with him as a coach.”

Citrus Bowl

Michigan vs. Florida

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Jan. 1, Orlando (Fla.) Citrus Bowl Stadium

TV/radio: ABC/WWJ

Records: No. 14 Michigan 9-3, No. 19 Florida 10-3

Line: Michigan by 4

Series: Michigan leads 2-0 (Michigan 41-35, Jan. 1, 2008, Capital One Bowl)