Arizona State’s difficult offseason continued on Thursday as two of ASU’s best players — wide receiver Ricky Pearsall and linebacker Eric Gentry — put their names into the transfer portal.
Pearsall, a Tempe native who was entering his fourth year with the program, led the Sun Devils in receptions (48), receiving yards (580) and receiving touchdowns (4) in 2021. He was expected to lead the position group again in 2022, especially as the program breaks in a new starting quarterback following the departure of Jayden Daniels to LSU.
Gentry, meanwhile, emerged as a potential breakout player in the Pac-12 in 2021 as a true freshman. Despite not starting a game, Gentry had 45 tackles, five tackles for loss and a sack en route to multiple Freshman All-American honors. Gentry was expected to take on a bigger role on ASU’s defense in 2022.
With that kind of production early on in his career, Gentry will have no shortage of suitors in the transfer portal. The same can be said for Pearsall, who was such a steady presence for the ASU offense in 2021.
Turbulent offseason for Arizona State
The likely departures of Pearsall and Gentry is just the latest bit of turmoil for Arizona State under head coach Herm Edwards.
Arizona State is caught up in an ongoing NCAA investigation stemming from the school allegedly hosting and contacting recruits during dead periods amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant portion of Edwards’ staff has left the program because of the investigation, including offensive coordinator Zak Hill and defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce.
Edwards, 67, is entering his fifth season as Arizona State’s head coach. In four years under Edwards, ASU has a 25-18 overall record with a 17-14 mark in Pac-12 play. In 2021, ASU finished with an 8-5 record.
Before being brought back into the coaching ranks by ASU athletic director Ray Anderson (Edwards’ former agent), Edwards served as an NFL analyst for ESPN and hadn’t coached since 2008.
With the NCAA investigation ongoing — and the potential for Level I violations looming — ASU’s recruiting suffered mightily. ASU finished last in the Pac-12 in the Rivals.com team rankings for the class of 2022 and has relied on the transfer portal to replenish the roster. But the portal goes both ways. Daniels, the team’s three-year starter at QB, was a huge loss, as were Thursday’s developments with Pearsall and Gentry.