Is 4-Star Zach Gentry the Quarterback Who Can Bring Michigan Back to Glory?

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterJanuary 26, 2015

Credit: 247Sports

Jim Harbaugh was a splash hire for Michigan. However, he had failed to land a splash recruit since being named the Wolverines head coach last month.

Consider that part rectified.

It wasn't completely surprising, but Harbaugh managed to flip longtime Texas quarterback commit Zach Gentry over the weekend, according to Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com:

On a related note, Harbaugh also picked up a pledge Saturday from defensive end and former Nebraska commit Reuben Jones.

Gentry had been verbally committed to the Longhorns for the past seven months and would have been a prize recruit for head coach Charlie Strong. Instead, Gentry becomes that class-defining type of prospect for Harbaugh even though the Wolverines' 2015 group is only nine players strong.

The important part here is that Harbaugh was able to sell the 4-star prospect on the future and his role in it.

So what does that future look like? Certainly, Gentry can be the face of the program, but it may not happen right away, and other pieces need to fall into place.

For one, Gentry isn't going to be handed the job even though he's "Harbaugh's guy." Michigan lacks experience at quarterback, but not necessarily raw talent. Junior Shane Morris, senior and longtime backup Russell Bellomy, as well as early-enrollee freshman Alex Malzone should be the primary candidates to compete for the starting job in 2015.

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Gentry won't arrive on campus until the summer. As Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins told Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, that decreases Gentry's chances of starting next season:

Every quarterback I've ever seen that's kind of come in as a true freshman and did something was an early grad who had spring ball. I'm brainstorming as I'm talking here trying to think of a guy who didn't enroll. It's just a huge advantage. If you play high school football and Florida, Texas or California, it's a huge adjustment (from high school to college). So, going from New Mexico to the Big Ten -- that's just a huge adjustment.

I think physically he'll be able to compete, but the mental side, learning the offense and seeing the defense, it might be best for him to see a redshirt year and go from there. But we'll see.

That's not a bad thing, however. On the contrary, not having the pressure of transforming Michigan in Year 1 could be good for Gentry. Like Andrew Luck at Stanford in 2008, Gentry can take the first year to learn the offense and develop under Harbaugh and quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch.

"He kind of molded Andrew Luck into what he is today," Gentry said in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press. "When Jim Harbaugh is calling you, you're excited."

Listed at 6'7" and 230 pounds with a big arm, Gentry has the physical maturity to succeed at the next level. Still, the college game is faster and there's more to digest.

With the rise of seven-on-seven camps and competitions like the Elite 11, football is a year-round commitment for high school prospects. That, coupled with early enrollment, helps the transition into college. Still, there's nothing wrong with not wanting to put too much on a freshman too soon.

If the development of the offensive line remains an issue, throwing Gentry to the wolves right away could have long-term repercussions.

Besides, 2015 could be a learning-curve year for the Wolverines. Keep in mind that it took Harbaugh two seasons before he took Stanford to a bowl game. Michigan may not be as bad as Stanford was when Harbaugh took over the program for the 2007 season, but it's not in great shape, either.

Harbaugh's resume indicates he'll get Michigan turned around once he puts his stamp on the program and brings in his players. Gentry is one of the first recruits to have that stamp, assuming he signs his letter of intent with the Wolverines.

It may not happen in 2015, but don't be surprised if Gentry becomes a key part of Michigan's return to the top of college football over the next few years.

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports