Arizona State’s football team is two weeks out from the end of spring football and the program has taken a serious beating as two of its best players head to the transfer gate.
The duo consists of second-year linebacker Eric Gentry and junior wide receiver Ricky Pearsall. Sources close to the program say the moves are motivated by NIL. Media covering Notre Dame reported that the Fighting Irish are suing Pearsall.
Gentry, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound, earned Freshman All-American honors last season from ESPN, Pro Football Focus, 247 Sports, Pro Football Network and the FWAA. He is the first consensus freshman All-American at Arizona State since fellow linebacker Merlin Robertson in 2018.
Gentry has started the last three games of 2021 with starter Darien Butler sidelined with a concussion. His rookie campaign ended with a start in the Las Vegas Bowl against Wisconsin in which he had five tackles and one tackle for loss.
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He finished his freshman season with 45 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, and two pass breakups while playing in all 13 games. He was one of three true Pac-12 freshman linebackers to play at least 250 snaps. The highlight of the season came in a crucial fourth save, when he faced UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the backfield for a momentum-changing play.
Gentry was to fill the starting role previously held by the graduate butler.
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Pearsall’s loss is crucial as it may be ASU’s weakest position. The Corona Del Sol product was the top performer in this unit with 48 catches for a team-best 530 yards. His 132 receiving yards against UCLA was the only performance over 100 yards by an ASU receiver last season.
Running back Rachaad White was the team’s No. 2 receiver and is awaiting the NFL Draft, which means the top athlete at the position is returning LV Bunkley-Shelton who has 33 catches for 418 yards. Three of last year’s top four receivers are now gone.
The loss of both players compounds the problems for ASU, which also lost three-year-old starting quarterback Jayden Daniels to LSU.
Next week could see a lot of action when it comes to the transfer portal. Players have until May 1 to sign up without having to take a year off unless they leave as a graduate transfer.
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