Newcomers make an impact: 7 takeaways from USC training camp

Former Arizona State linebacker Eric Gentry stands on the field.

Former Arizona State linebacker Eric Gentry could see plenty of snaps this season based on his strong training camp with the Trojans.

(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

It’s impossible to miss Eric Gentry. At 6-foot-6, standing in the middle of USC’s defense, the transfer linebacker from Arizona State towers over the front with uncommon length for the position.

“When he first came in I was like, ‘Who the hell is this tall dude?” Tuipulotu joked this week.

Gentry’s length isn’t the only part of his game that’s stood out to coaches. Inside linebackers coach Brian Odom commented recently how quickly Gentry has picked up the defense. During USC’s scrimmage, he was in the right place at the right time to snag an interception.

“Very impressed with Eric,” Grinch added. “You can tell he’s played football at our level. The difference between freshman year and sophomore year, there’s no bigger difference.”

Considering Gentry’s first year ended with freshman All-American status, that’s an encouraging sign. It doesn’t, however, assure him of the starting inside linebacker spot. While Gentry undoubtedly has the higher upside, senior Ralen Goforth has the edge in experience.

USC could choose to trot out Goforth alongside surefire starter Shane Lee to begin the season. But it seems only a matter of time before Gentry steps into that role.

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