Andrew Gentry was a force to be reckoned with on his high school football field in Littleton, Colorado. Standing 6-feet-8-inches tall, he was a four-star recruit and the 8th-best offensive tackle in the country his senior year and had no shortage of national attention. Out of high school, Gentry had offers from 21 different universities to play football, including some of the best teams in the country like Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State. But instead of hitting the football locker room after graduation, Gentry opted to defer his collegiate playing career until after he served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When his mission call came, he was assigned to serve in Argentina beginning in May 2020, and before he left, he also made a formal commitment to play football at The University of Virginia after his mission.
But since that time, both of those plans have changed: Gentry will complete his mission this May, but he’s never been to Argentina, and he won’t be going to Virginia afterward like he thought.
“Right now, I’m not too concerned about it,” Gentry explained to On3.com. “I’m not where I was before, and that’s okay. If I serve and dedicate everything I have here, the Lord is going to bless me when I return.”
The first life-changing event was when Elder Gentry’s original mission assignment to Argentina was revised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was reassigned to serve in Orem, Utah, where he quickly grew to appreciate the new and unexpected situation he found himself in.
“It was definitely a shock,” Gentry told On3.com. “But about nine months in, I got this feeling that the Lord needed me here to teach people and to meet people in this mission. It was a feeling out of the blue, and we call that a prompting. I knew it came straight from the Lord. At that point, I said, ‘I’m going to stay here because I feel like I need to stay here.’ And obviously, I loved it, too.”
He was even given the opportunity to finish his mission in Argentina, but Gentry declined as he truly feels he is exactly where he needs to be right now.
The second big change in his life has to do with his original commitment to play football at the University of Virginia—under the coaching leadership of fellow Latter-day Saint Bronco Mendenhall. That decision was taken into reconsideration when Coach Mendenhall announced his resignation late last year.
Gentry’s father, Todd, told On3.com of Coach Mendenhall’s resignation, “When the news broke, my wife and I quickly realized this was going to be a life-changing event for Andrew. Before he left, he had mentioned that if the staff was broken up, and if Bronco Mendenhall left, he would reconsider his decision.”
And reconsider he did. Elder Gentry’s mission president encouraged him to think about and prepare for his future. After prayers and a conversation with his parents, Gentry knew he wanted to go to the University of Michigan. So Elder Gentry’s dad made a few phone calls, and Head Coach Jim Harbaugh flew out to Utah, met with Gentry over lunch, and had Gentry’s commitment to play for Michigan by the time he left 45 minutes later.
“Had Gentry gone to Argentina when offered the opportunity,” writer EJ Holland of On3.com explains, “there is a good chance the meeting with Harbaugh never would have happened since he would have been outside of the country.”
“It’s been cool to see the hand of the Lord in all of this,” Gentry said. “It’s meant a lot to me. I firmly believe it’s about the process of changing. I feel like I’ve matured and grown spiritually.”
You can read the full feature story on Elder Gentry from On3.com here.