It is rare for any local high school athlete to have the opportunity to attend Harvard University. Brothers earning that opportunity is even more rare.
McCallie School twins Austin and Jack Gentle could not pass up that chance, and on Monday afternoon the soon-to-be seniors committed to a Harvard football program that will allow them to remain teammates while attending one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
"Obviously they're very intelligent young men and anybody who has watched them play knows they're also very tough kids," Blue Tornado coach Ralph Potter said. "They have a physicality that you love from your linemen, and they're also very conscientious. They're the type kids who will come up to coaches after a game we won by 28 points and apologize for a block they missed in the second quarter."
Jack (6-foot-2, 270 pounds) missed out on his sophomore season after being accidentally poked in the eye during a practice. He returned last season and was a versatile member of an offensive line that helped McCallie win the Division II-AAA state championship.
"It was incredibly frustrating to lose a whole season, and I knew I had a lot of ground to make up when I was able to return," he said. "I worked really hard and was just glad I was able to play last season without any problems, but I still carry a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, wanting to prove myself."
The twins have played football since they were in fifth grade and admitted the chance to continue their careers together was a major factor in their decision.
"I'm just super excited to get to keep playing alongside my brother. What an amazing opportunity," said Jack, who was also being recruited by Air Force, Army, Brown, The Citadel, Davidson, Memphis, Middle Tennessee State and Samford among others.
Austin (6-3, 285) is rated the No. 19 offensive guard in the nation and earned all-state recognition last year when he finished with 104 pancake blocks. He has offers from 24 programs, including Louisville, Memphis, North Carolina State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, as well as the service academies and other Ivy League schools.
"The dream for both of us has always been to get to play together," Austin said. "To get to do that at one of the best academic universities in the country is just awesome.
"The whole recruiting process was a lot different because our experience has been with mostly Zoom calls and Twitter conversations with coaches instead of one-on-one meetings with them. But once we committed, it was a relief and now we can just concentrate on getting ready for this season and trying to win another state championship."