The Arizona State Sun Devils head into the 2021 season with plenty of seasoning on their plate. No longer are they the team with a handful of exciting but inexperienced players, as the Sun Devils welcome back 15 of their 22 starters from last season.
Impact players are easy to spot for this team; no microscope is needed for further inspection. Players such as quarterback Jayden Daniels and defensive lineman Jermayne Lole are two of a handful of prominent players who many expect to handle business for Arizona State this season.
However, there's always a freshman or two that are able to separate themselves from the rest of their peers and make their presence known sooner rather than later. ASU's incoming class should be no different.
The staff of AllSunDevils came together to discuss their picks for which freshmen could have the largest impact for the upcoming season.
This article is the second in our ASU Impact Freshman series, with unanimous selection Ezra Dotson-Oyetade being previously named. Now, we move forward with defensive player Eric Gentry.
Position: Outside Linebacker
As previously mentioned, inside defensive lineman Jermayne Lole does a phenomenal job at anchoring the quarterback. With a top-tier secondary for Arizona State already intact, what's left for the Sun Devils to do? Get after the quarterback, and that's where the services of Gentry come in. The 6-foot-6 edge defender excels at doing exactly that, already receiving praise from teammates after a stellar spring game.
Although veterans are ahead of Gentry for linebacker depth, Gentry may be converted to either a defensive end or simply pass-rushing specialist for ASU. It will be up to defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce to determine where he feels Gentry will thrive best in the Sun Devils' 4-3 defense.
Gentry's large frame provides a large presence at the linebacker position, and should he eventually add more muscle, his high-school nickname of "The Freak" should replicate itself at the collegiate level. Gentry may be given an early opportunity to display his talents and make an impact immediately despite the veteran presence ahead of him, at least playing off the football.
Linebacker. Defensive end. Doesn't matter. Put Gentry anywhere and there's a genuine feeling he will be able to put his tools and skillset on display. The optimism around Gentry is nearly as high as his potential, and while the future projects very well for Gentry, the building blocks will be established in 2021.