USC expected to have two of the most impactful LB transfers in college football this season
Shane Lee and Eric Gentry both agreed to transfer to USC this offseason, picking coaches Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch over interest from a number of high-profile suitors. Lee, a former Alabama defender, brings a sturdiness and a leadership quality that has quickly proved invaluable for Riley as he sets the foundation for his new program. Gentry boasts a sky-high ceiling after earning a Freshman All-American selection at Arizona State last season.
And On3’s Mike Huguenin thinks the duo will be two of the 10 most impactful linebacker transfers in college football next season.
Huguenin looked at player importance, potential, and expected production to create his list. He has Gentry at No. 9, writing this on the former Sun Devil:
Eric Gentry may not be a star this season for USC, but his ceiling is high and he has the look of a future pro. Gentry (6-6, 215) played in 12 games, made four starts and had 45 tackles last season as a true freshman at Arizona State. He didn’t go through spring practice at USC and thus has some work to do in preseason camp. But he has the talent, athleticism and versatility (he can play inside and come off the edge) to be, at the least, an important rotation piece, and it seems likely he works his way into the starting lineup at some point this season.
And he thinks Lee will be the most valuable linebacker addition made by anyone all offseason:
Shane Lee (6-0, 245) certainly isn’t the most athletic linebacker on this list, but he’s an old-school thumper and his importance as a defensive leader cannot be overstated. All of the transfer attention for USC has been focused on the offense, but Lee’s addition comes at a position of need and his winning ways are important as the Trojans look to become nationally relevant again. Because of injuries, Lee was pressed into immediate action at Alabama as a true freshman in 2019; he was second on the team with 86 tackles in 13 games. But over the past two seasons, he dealt with injuries, was bypassed on the depth chart and made just nine tackles in 15 games. He had a good spring for the Trojans and is one of six transfers expected to provide a boost for a defense that was woeful last season.
Lee stared as a freshman for the Crimson Tide in 2019, earning FWAA Freshman All-American honors. He posted 86 tackles as a first-year player in the SEC, the second-most on the team, including 6.5 for loss and 4.5 that were sacks. He had an interception and a pass breakup, a fumble recovery and two fumbles forced in 13 starts.
He’s expected to start on the inside for Grinch this season, giving USC a throwback ‘backer and a tone-setter.
“I’ve just been so impressed with him and his growth and his maturity and how invested he is in not just himself becoming an elite player but also in this team winning championships,” Riley said of Lee earlier this spring. “In such a short amount of time he’s had a huge impact. It reminds me a lot of when we brought Jalen Hurts to Oklahoma a few years ago and we had him for one year but his impact, you could feel it immediately. Shane’s had a very similar impact for this football team in the first 100 days.”
And he’s expected to have a similarly outsized impact as the season gets rolling.