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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
April 23, 2009

By Sammy Batten

Pirates capture early commit from Gentry

Recruiting Class of 2010
starts with stellar lineman

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Drew Gentry seemed destined for a career on the basketball court as a child growing up in the hoops-crazy state of Indiana.

“I started playing basketball in kindergarten,'' Gentry said. “The doctors told us at that time I was going to be 7-foot-2. By the third grade they (doctors) said I'd be 6-11, and in the sixth grade they said I'd be 6-8.''

Gentry has settled instead for a “smaller'' 6-foot-7, 300-pound frame and stardom on the football field.

For the past three seasons, Gentry has been part of the varsity squad at Maclay School in Tallahassee, FL, where he now resides. He transferred to North Florida Christian School in January where he'll be a starter at offensive tackle next fall on a squad that features “seven or eight'' major-college prospects, according to head coach Tim Cokely.

Gentry became part of the latter on April 20 when he accepted a scholarship offer from East Carolina.

The Pirates secured a verbal commitment from Gentry less than 24 hours after an unofficial visit to Greenville where he had a private meeting with ECU head coach Skip Holtz and attended the annual spring game at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

“Our meeting with Coach Holtz lasted about 20 or 30 minutes before the spring game,'' Gentry said. “He told us about his morals and everything he believes in. It was kind of funny because he and my Dad believe in the same things. My Dad liked that.

“I told Coach Holtz, (offensive line) Coach (Steve) Shankweiler and (assistant head) Coach (Rick) Smith that they'd have an answer by Monday afternoon on whether I'd commit or wait. I told my Dad when we got home that there was no reason I shouldn't commit.''

Gentry called the ECU coaching staff at noon on the 20th to make his pledge.

“I was just impressed with the whole situation there,'' Gentry said. “The town thrives on East Carolina and Pirate football. While we were at the spring game, I was talking to fans, to the players, and it was clear the town of Greenville lives and dies with East Carolina football. That's the kind of place you're looking for if you want to play college football.''

Marshall had also extended a scholarship offer, and Auburn and Notre Dame had been showing interest in Gentry. He actually visited the Marshall campus in the days prior to arriving in Greenville.

Notre Dame would have seemed like a natural destination for Gentry, who lived in Evansville, IN, up to the seventh grade. The family moved to Florida's capital city and home of Florida State University just before his eighth-grade year.

It wasn't long after their arrival in Tallahassee that Gentry faced a personal tragedy. His mother passed away from complications from lupus and fibromyalgia.

“It's funny because I acted a different way than most people would,'' Gentry said. “My mom was a very upbeat, positive person. She was a real smart aleck and joked around a lot. She always said if it were to happen to rejoice and celebrate her life. So I got through (by) making jokes. It was my way of remembering her.''

Gentry carried on his mother's honor, developing into a stellar football player in three seasons at Maclay. He served as team captain the last two years before deciding a change of scenery was in order.

“I felt like at North Florida Christian I could get my walk back with Christ,'' Gentry said. “Football is good here. But I felt like it was more important for me religiously than anything else.''

On the football field, Gentry describes himself as a blocker with “good form and technique.''

“I obviously like to hit,'' Gentry said. “But as far as my strengths go, I have good form, good technique and good footwork.''

Cokely said Gentry also plays with great intelligence.

“I think offensive linemen have to have that intangible,'' Cokely said. “You can't be a dummy and play up front because things change so much and protections change so much, you have to be able think and make the adjustment. Drew does those kind of things.

"Yes, he's big, and he's got a lot of quickness. But he also thinks the game, and I think that's why the East Carolina coaches really liked him.''

Gentry is a full academic qualifier, according to Cokely.

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04/23/2009 03:02:16 AM


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