As the USC linebackers went through their tackling drills early in Wednesday’s practice, Eric Gentry walked the sidelines like a tightrope, waiting for the right time. The inside linebacker has been restricted since training camp began, struggling with the same ankle injury that handicapped him last season.
His limited participation in training camp and the absence of Shane Lee through injury at the same position may have caused panic at this point last year.
But that’s where Captain America comes in.
“Captain America” is Tackett Curtis, the Trojans’ acclaimed freshman linebacker whose arrival at USC already puts him on par with the first Avenger. No other freshman has garnered as much attention during camp as Marvel.
“Tackett Curtis, oh my god,” running back MarShawn Lloyd said. “Tackett is great.”
“If I had to call him that, he’s a destroyer,” added Caleb Williams.
“I’ve been with a lot of freshmen over the past few years,” said rush end player Jamil Muhammad, “and they’re not getting along quite as well as he is.”
That doesn’t mean that Curtis is already a finished product. He’s still learning the scheme and still honing his technique. But he didn’t hesitate when he came into play as an inside linebacker.
This position is deeper than before. But if Gentry and Lee aren’t ready to drop by next Saturday, Captain America could spring into action immediately.