UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 39
LARAMIE -- During this summer series we are going to countdown the Top 50 football players in Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.
The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.
This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining me is Robert Gagliardi, Jared Newland, Ryan Thorburn and Kevin McKinney. We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is more fair.
Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter page @7220sports.
Wide receiver, 2013-16, Aurora, Colorado
Here's why: If you Google the name Tanner Gentry, prepare to see a highlight reel filled with spectacular catches.
Not only were his grabs circus-like, nearly every one of them came in at about 100 mph off the right arm of Josh Allen.
The 6-2, 210-pound Aurora product will likely always be remembered for hauling in those Allen lasers, but in reality, Gentry was a consistent pass catcher throughout his four-year stint on the high plains.
He's fifth all-time in school history with 2,815 receiving yards, behind only Marcus Harris, Ryan Yarborough, Jovon Bouknight and Wendell Montgomery. Gentry's 20 career touchdown grabs ties him with Robert Herron for fourth overall. His 180 catches ranks him eighth. He's just six catches out of sixth place.
The memories of Gentry are endless.
Who could forget the grab he made in the back of the end zone in Lincoln just before the half? Or how about the clinic he put on against Utah State later that season. He only caught four balls, but two of them were for scores as he racked up 93 yards receiving in a 52-28 rout of the Aggies inside War Memorial Stadium.
There was also the catches where Allen was running for his life only to find Gentry alone in the end zone. Boise State saw a dart stick to Gentry's gloves. So did San Diego State.
His most impressive game, however, came in a loss. That was a 69-66 triple-overtime setback in Sin City. That afternoon, Gentry hauled in a modest five passes. Despite that, he turned those into 184 receiving yards and three scores, including an unreal one-handed catch as time expired in regulation.
Is it any wonder why Allen wanted Gentry to join him in western New York this fall?
Gentry was a second-team All-Mountain West selection as a senior after snagging 72 balls for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns. That is the sixth-best single-season mark in program history.
Yarborough on Friday posed a question to me before a celebrity softball game in Cody: "Who are the only receivers in UW history to surpass 1,000 yards in a season?"
Well, there's the man who asked the question, Harris, Bouknight, Shawn Wiggins, Bouknight and Gentry. If you are in that company, you're making this list.
Gagliardi's take: Tanner Gentry attacked the weight room like no wide receiver I witnessed in more than 20 years covering Wyoming football. Gentry wanted to be the best in everything he did on the football field, but for him it was more than catches, yards and touchdowns — it was how to prepare to put up those numbers.
“I try to work as hard as I can in everything. I have good speed, but I am not a 4.3 guy, so being able to out-physical smaller defensive backs gives me some benefits,” Gentry told me during his senior season in 2016.
Gentry ranks in the top 10 in school history in catches (180), receiving yards (2,815) and receiving touchdowns (20). Aside from his prowess in the weight room, what I think about with Gentry is how he made the spectacular catches look almost routine. The circus catch he made at Nebraska in 2016 right before halftime stands out in my mind. Gentry’s video-game like effort later that year at UNLV (five catches for 184 yards and three touchdowns) comes to mind, and there were some head-scratching catches in that game. The 2016 season will be remembered as quarterback Josh Allen’s coming-out party, and that’s true, but Gentry made Allen look really good with his ability to make tough catches.
Gentry said his most memorable catch was his first touchdown in 2014 in a 48-14 loss at No. 2 Oregon. Fortunately for Wyoming, Gentry caught 19 more touchdowns before his college career came to an end.
“Coming here I never really thought about that as a possibility,” said Gentry in being ranked among Wyoming’s all-time leading wide receivers as his senior year concluded. “I’ve just been playing and it’s been cool to see it unfold.”
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (30), Robert Gagliardi (37), Jared Newland (38), Ryan Thorburn (42), Kevin McKinney (NR)
Cody Tucker: Brand Manger and creator of 7220sports.com. Tucker has covered the Cowboys since June of 2019, but was a season-ticket holder for nearly three decades. Tucker has also covered Michigan State University Athletics for the Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins during his 10-year journalism career
Robert Gagliardi: Former sports editor and University of Wyoming beat reporter for WyoSports. Gagliardi covered the Cowboys from more than a quarter century. He also covered the team at the Branding Iron, the UW student newspaper. Gagliardi also co-authored the book: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming
Jared Newland: Currently the local sales manager for Townsquare Media SE Wyoming, Newland worked with and around Wyoming athletics for 20 years, starting as a student athletic trainer in 1990. Newland has also served in the Sports Information Office, the Cowboy Joe Club, Wyoming Sports Properties and was a UW Athletics Hall of Fame Committee Member from 2002-14.
Ryan Thorburn: Currently covering the Oregon Ducks for The Register-Guard, Thorburn also covered the Cowboys in the early and mid-90's for the Branding Iron and Casper Star Tribune. He has also written four books about Wyoming Athletics: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming, Cowboy Up: Kenny Sailors, The Jump Shot and Wyoming’s Championship Basketball History, Lost Cowboys: The Story of Bud Daniel and Wyoming Baseball and Black 14: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Wyoming Football
Kevin McKinney: Currently the senior associate athletics director for external affairs at the University of Wyoming, McKinney also serves as the radio color commentator for Wyoming football and men's basketball. McKinney has been involved with UW Athletics in some capacity since 1972. He was also inducted into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015.
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