LARAMIE — The Buffalo Bills are getting the University of Wyoming's 2016 band back together.
The Bills, headed to the NFL playoffs for the second year in a row under former Cowboy quarterback Josh Allen, announced Monday that they signed Tanner Gentry to their practice squad.
Gentry starred at UW from 2013-16, catching 180 passes for 2,815 yards and 20 touchdowns. He flourished with Allen during the Cowboys' magical 2016 season.
The Pokes went 8-5 in 2016, which included a historic upset over No. 13 Boise State. It was Allen's first full season as UW's starting quarterback, and Gentry was among the biggest beneficiaries of Allen's rapid ascension.
Gentry caught 72 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2016. Among the highlights was his leaping touchdown catch against the Broncos where Allen scramble all the way to his right and threw a strike to Gentry in the back of the end zone over a defender.
“I’ve coached a long time against some really good quarterbacks, and you can go through the list ... And I’d never seen that before. I don’t think (Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin) had either," UW head coach Craig Bohl told WyoSports.
Allen went on to be drafted by the Bills seventh overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Gentry went undrafted in 2017 but signed with the Chicago Bears. He has three career catches, all coming in 2017.
Blazek takes over offensive line
North Dakota State offensive line coach A.J. Blazek has been named the offensive line coach at the University of Wyoming, head coach Craig Bohl announced Monday morning.
Blazek, who also served as Rutgers' offensive line coach from 2016-18 and as assistant head coach from 2017-18, helped the Bison win their eighth FCS national championship in 2019, his lone season at North Dakota State.
Bohl, of course, previously coached at North Dakota State from 2003-13 and won three-straight national titles before being named head coach at Wyoming prior to the 2014 season. There are now three former North Dakota State assistants on Bohl's current staff, joining running backs coach Gordie Haug and offensive coordinator Brent Vigen.
"A.J. enjoys an excellent national reputation as an offensive line coach and recruiter," Bohl said in a news release. "He will be a great addition to our offensive coaching staff as we continue to move Wyoming football forward.
"As we continue to re-engineer our offense entering the 2021 season, A.J. will bring great value to our offense."
Blazek, a Kansas native, played collegiately at Iowa and earned All-Big Ten honors as a senior at center. He previously worked at Western Illinois (offensive line and run-game coordinator), Winona State (offensive line and co-offensive coordinator) and Fort Hays State (offensive line and offensive coordinator). He was named the top assistant in Division II while at Winona State in 2012 by the American Football Coaches Association.
“Having been here at NDSU and knowing what Coach (Bohl) built and accomplished here before he moved to Wyoming, I’m extremely excited to be part of that culture," Blazek said in a statement. "Coach Bohl is someone who makes establishing the line of scrimmage a priority, and for an offensive line coach you couldn’t ask for more."
Blazek will take over for Bart Miller, who was named Illinois' offensive line coach last week. Blazek will have an embarrassment of riches to work with up front in 2021, as every player who started a game on the offensive in 2020 has an opportunity to return next season. The group is headline by center Keegan Cryder, who earned first team All-Mountain West honors in 2020.
“I can’t wait to join a program where the whole offensive line group is returning," Blazek said. "That group has had success the last several years, and to now have an opportunity to help those guys continue to grow is something I’m really looking forward to.”