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Zach Gentry Hitting His Prime: ‘Right Now Is When You Feel Your Physically Strongest’

A fifth-round draft pick out of Michigan, Zach Gentry began his football journey as a quarterback. That is even the position he was recruited to play by Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh. It took him a year of convincing before he finally came to agree that a move to tight end was in the best interests of his future.

It helped that he had the body for it. Standing at 6’8”, he has packed the pounds on his frame, able to push 270 pounds at the top end of the scale, though recently he has spoken about wanting to play at lighter weights. In fact, he believes he’s in his physical peak now.

“I feel like progressively I’ve gotten stronger and stronger every year”, he told Van Tate for KRQE back in his hometown area of Albuquerque, NM. “Football’s a young man’s game, but also around the time I am right now [in my career] is when you start to feel your physically strongest and most athletic. I feel like I’ve taken the steps to get to that point. It’s just a continual battle”.

Still just 26 years old (he won’t turn 27 until September), Gentry has already gone through four full NFL seasons, during two of which he has had extensive playing time. He has had the benefit of having excellent training and nutritional personnel around him to allow him to maximize his physical capabilities.

Especially for a tight end, and in particular one who is asked to carry out in-line blocking assignments, it takes a few years for your body to mature and to mentally adapt to the point of being able to take on those responsibilities. We see it with the vast majority of quality blocking tight ends, including the likes of Matt Spaeth.

While the Steelers also drafted Pat Freiermuth in the second round in 2021 in part because they believed in his ability to develop into an all-around tight end, he’s likely developed as a receiver past the point at which they would want him blocking too many defensive ends.

Sure, Heath Miller did a lot of that kind of stuff, although he also had Spaeth by his side for much of his career, but this is a different era, and well, there aren’t many Heath Millers out there, either. And every Miller should have his Spaeth, anyway.

Freiermuth and Gentry are the closest thing this team is going to have to that combination, at least if they can keep them around. The latter is due to become an unrestricted free agent in March, though he shouldn’t prohibitively expensive to retain if they really want him.

Freiermuth wants them to, as he told former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger recently. Even if Gentry in hindsight never could have imagined him developing into the role he now has as the blocker on the team.

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