The 2018 Rice football team has a few new faces, but none have made as much of an early impact on the Owls as graduate transfer fullback Gio Gentosi.
Graduate transfer Gio Gentosi spent the vast majority of his collegiate career at UCLA. Although he played sparingly on special teams and limited packages he had the opportunity to see the Stanford Cardinal play in person several times. He always came away in awe.
A fullback by trade, Gentosi is part of an exclusive line of hardnosed hitters that are slowly becoming relics of the past. Gentosi is as fit as he’s ever been, but the fullback position continues to fade into the background as the spread and tempo offenses of modern college football become more and more normative.
For fullbacks, there aren’t many options. When Gentosi watched Mike Bloomgren’s offense at Stanford he knew he wanted to be a part of it, calling it the “dream school for fullbacks” during Rice football media days earlier this fall. Fast-forward a few short months — Gio Gentosi is living the dream.
Gentosi is seeing more of the field than he ever did at UCLA, getting more playing time with the Owls in 2018 than he’s seen since his high school days. The uptick in usage, which continues to climb with each successive game, has already led to career marks for Gentosi, who posted more yardage against Wake Forest (three carries for 31 yards) than any other game of his collegiate career.
And there could be more.
Mike Bloomgren called Gentosi “a weapon” that he’s “got to find ways to feed.” The first-year coach isn’t one for empty words. If he’s calling something out, it’s because he believes in it. Bloomgren’s offense requires the use of some sort of big-bodied bruiser to do the dirty work in the trenches. Gentosi was running over everyone last weekend, taking out multiple players blow by blow.
When asked about how he approaches the position, he shied away from the highlight reel plays, emphasizing the importance of good blocking. “Running the ball isn’t really the goal of that position,” he said, with one interesting caveat. If the Owls find themselves on fourth-and-goal with the game on the line, Gentosi knows what play he wants to see called. In front of the media during the Owls’ weekly press conference, Gentosi grinned, looked at coach Bloomgren and said — “I’d like to see a fullback dive.” As well as Gentosi has been playing, it wouldn’t come as a surprise.