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Freshman Gunner Gentry could see playing time at Wyoming

August 14, 2018

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A signature Gentry catch was on display Monday morning at Wyoming football practice. A tattooed single-digit receiver went up and made a 50-50 ball look routine. Cowboy fans have gotten accustomed to those catches over the years, though the accompanying numbers are a tad bigger now. Five, instead of 4, on the jersey. Six-foot-3, instead of 6-2, on the roster.

But make no mistake. A Gentry is back in town.

Two seasons separated from Tanner Gentry’s 14-touchdown senior year, true freshman Gunner Gentry is now making his own catches with the Wyoming receiver group. It might not be long before he does so on game day.

“He’s doing a nice job,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said Saturday. “I think there’s a great likelihood he’ll play some this year and probably won’t redshirt. We’ll look at our numbers, but he’s certainly showing up quite a bit.”

Gunner’s arrival has caused some coaches to slip back into old habits.

“A couple coaches have called him Tanner, just because they think that that’s Tanner,” junior receiver Austin Conway said, “and a couple coaches will call him Tanner jokingly. But he looks just like him, so you can definitely get the two mixed up.

″... I mean, when they run, it’s like, dang, they’re the same person almost. And they both have similar-type tattoos and same size. They almost look identical. You can’t really tell the difference between the two.”

“His running style (is similar to Tanner’s),” receivers coach Mike Grant told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I’m sure he doesn’t like being called Tanner, but occasionally guys will slip it in on him.”

While Gunner has the edge in height, Tanner looked to have the edge in muscle. Still, they’re used to comparisons.

Just ask Tanner.

“It’s pretty crazy, just the way we move and the way we run — and even the way we look,” said Tanner, who is now with the Chicago Bears. “It’s very similar.”

Tanner caught 180 passes for 2,815 yards and 20 touchdowns at Wyoming, so any suggestion of imitation would certainly be flattering for Gunner. But Gunner isn’t trying to be a Tanner clone. When Gunner chose Wyoming, it wasn’t at Tanner’s urging.

“I didn’t persuade him to choose anywhere,” Tanner said. “I told him it’s all up to him, and it’s his career and it’s his journey. I wanted him to make the decision, and as long as he was happy with it, I was happy with it.”

When Gunner first put on a Wyoming practice uniform, he thought more about making it his own than living up to No. 4.

“I put the jersey on and was just excited to get to work,” Gunner said. “I was excited just to prove myself and prove that I can play and prove that I’m not just here because of what my brother did, that I can actually make my own plays, do my own things.”

The brothers have tried to talk a couple times a week as Gunner endures fall camp and Tanner works to make an impression during Bears preseason.

“I know that your first fall camp as a freshman is tough, just being away from home and it’s a grind,” Tanner said. “It’s an all-day thing, and it’s tough. I knew that, and I’ve been checking in on him. He’s doing well.”

Through two preseason games, Tanner has caught nine passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. He actually had back-to-back touchdowns on the same drive against Baltimore in the Hall of Fame Game, but the first one was called back on review.

“That was pretty crazy,” Tanner said. “The first one, I had known that my knee was down, but I didn’t know if I was touched. That one got called back, but yeah, it was sort of an end-game situation, and we needed a score, so it was pretty cool to be able to make a play.”

Tanner swung between the practice squad and active squad last year with Chicago, catching three balls in four games for 35 yards.

“I think just this year I feel more confident, and I know the speed of the game,” Tanner said. “It’s just all slowed down a lot from me. Just learned a lot last year, and just trying to take that into this year and just keep getting better.”

Tanner said he hopes to take advantage of playing in five preseason games — thanks to the Hall of Fame Game — and add to his NFL film reel. Because while he and Gunner are at different stages in their careers, they share the same goal of getting on the field this year.

It’s not the only thing they share.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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