Michigan or NFL? Zach Gentry 'trying to figure it out'
Atlanta — Michigan tight end Zach Gentry wants to focus on preparing for the Peach Bowl, but he is contemplating his next step and whether that will mean leaving early for the NFL Draft.
Gentry, a third-team All-Big Ten selection, has one year of eligibility remaining. He was third on the team in receptions (30) and receiving yards (475). Of his 30 receptions, 21 went for first downs or touchdowns. He said he’s not leaning one way or the other.
“I’m still in the process of trying to figure it out,” Gentry said Thursday morning during a Peach Bowl news conference. “I don’t want to worry about until after this game. I want to perform at a good level in this game and have the team perform at a good level in this game and see where I’m at after this game.”
He received a grade from the NFL and seemed comfortable with the projection, although he wouldn’t share the information.
“It was a good area for me, I think, but you never know,” Gentry said. “We’ll see. It’s a big thing, but I’m not really worried about it or concerned about it until after the game.”
Defensive end Rashan Gary and linebacker Devin Bush, both juniors, have decided to forego their final seasons at Michigan to prepare for the NFL. Last week, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson last week announced he’s returning for his final year at Michigan.
Gentry and Patterson are rooming together during the Peach Bowl trip, just as they did during road games this season. They’ve had a lot of conversations about their futures.
“Shea (returning), that makes a big difference for us,” Gentry said. “Another year in the system with Shea Patterson would be unbelievable. He’s going to be more comfortable than ever. That’s a really big thing.
“I think he’d rather I stay, obviously. We’ve had some really good conversations, especially recently. He’s excited about it. Another year in the system with him would be phenomenal.”
Patterson said he wants his teammates to make the best decisions for themselves.
“Zach’s kind of going through a decision-making process him and his family are discussing,” Patterson said. “All I can do is just say I’m there to support him if he feels likes he’s ready. If not, I’d love to throw the ball to that guy one more year. I think that would be a lot of fun.”
How would Patterson pitch returning to Michigan to players, like Gentry, on the fence?
“We’re going to win a lot of games next year,” Patterson said.
Michigan is coming off a 62-39 loss to Ohio State in the final regular-season game. It was not Gentry’s best game, and he heard about it from fans. A lot. To the point he had to shut down his Twitter account.
“It’s one of those things, it’s tough,” Gentry said. “The way that all unfolded in that game, we didn’t have a game immediately after that, so it took a while to get that out of your head. It was disappointing, because we underperformed and didn’t do what we thought or knew we can do.
“It was disappointing for me. There were plays I didn’t make. I guess the reason it hung around so much for me was a lot of people bringing it up. A lot of turmoil in the, quote, fanbase, I guess you could say. Getting a lot of stuff via social media. So I deleted the Twitter and had to stay away from some of that stuff, which is pretty unbelievable.”
Gentry would not share specific messages he received.
“It was some pretty bad stuff. Disappointing stuff, I’ll say,” Gentry said. “It comes with the game, so whatever. It was a little longer to get over. Just been motivating me and making me work harder.”
Has he re-engaged his Twitter account?
“I may in the future,” he said. “For now, it’s gone.”
His immediate future is the Peach Bowl against Florida, and then he will focus on his future. He was asked what would be a positive for returning to Michigan.
“Being here with a team that’s returning a lot of guys,” Gentry said. “I think it’s going to be an explosive offense, obviously, with Shea coming back, but it’s not just Shea. We have Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Nico Collins, the list goes on, a lot of linemen coming back. University of Michigan is not a bad place to be, either. There’s a lot of good things.”
For the win
Patterson led Michigan to a 10-2 record and was in some tough situations along the way, but nothing compared to the mano a mano battle he had Wednesday night with a Florida long-snapper to break the tie in FaceOff and give Michigan the much-coveted Peach Bowl belt.
The bowl organized several Michigan-Florida team competitions this week, and the Wednesday night Family Feud event at the College Football Hall of Fame was for a wrestling-type belt. Thanks to Patterson’s gutsy performance, Michigan won the belt, 3-2.
“It was more nerve-wracking than a lot of games this year,” Patterson said Thursday, laughing.
To decide the winner for the belt, Patterson was onstage opposite the Florida player and they had to answer: Who had the top-selling rap album of all time — Eminem or MC Hammer?
Patterson correctly picked Eminem and the Wolverines went crazy, some picking him up on stage in celebration.
“Oh man, it came out of nowhere,” Patterson said. “You’ve got 10 guys, and we almost killed ourselves because I panicked. We had four guys left, and they had one, and I thought two of them were facing one way, and I thought Quinn Rothman was facing the other way too, so I turned him around real quick and next thing I know, the dude’s like, 'Ah, you can’t turn around.’
"Three of them are facing one way and I’m facing the other way, and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m just going to take one for the team right here and I’m going to lose. We’re going to win.’ Then all three of them go down. ‘Man, I guess I’ll be in this position.’ I’m glad the last question was easiest for me. Lucked out there.”