Position: Defensive Tackle
Size: 6-6, 296
High School: Plano West
Hometown: Plano (TX)
Plano West's Mason Gentry was named first-team All-District-5A as a senior after having 49 tackles, two tackles for loss and three sacks in 2012. Gentry committed to SMU while also having an offer from Purdue.
After a strong freshman year by Mason Gentry, his sophomore campaign was somewhat of a step back. After collecting 38 tackles and two sacks his freshman year, Gentry was held to just 19 tackles last season with two tackles for a loss. Despite starting all 12 games, Gentry was unable to stop the running game the way SMU needed nor was he able to provide much of a pass rush. After a strong freshman year there was a thought that Gentry would take that next step, however he still remains as one of SMU’s leaders on defense heading into 2016.
With Zach Wood, Andrew McCleneghen, Shakiel Randolph, and Jonathan Yenga gone, much responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Gentry as one of the upperclassmen of this team. Stopping the run game starts up front and for Gentry it’s one of the biggest areas he’s going to have to improve upon this year by getting more penetration into the backfield. With a lot more talent along the defensive line, Gentry is also going to be pushed by the younger players like Ken McLaurin and Patrick Jones to name a few.
Where he fits
Gentry will see most of his time at defensive tackle for SMU with Lawler and others flanking him on the outside. With younger players all over on this defensive line it’s going to be on Lawler to be the anchor of this defense up front both in the run game and in the pass rush. He’s going to be asked to do even more in terms of rushing the passer and will be relied upon to get pressure in the backfield.
Expect Gentry to have a bounce back year as he continues to get more and more comfortable playing inside for SMU. I expect Gentry to embrace the role of being a leader on this team and to return more to the level that he was playing at his first year on the Hilltop while making a couple more plays in the backfield. This is a big year for Gentry and he realizes that, expect to see a motivated Gentry looking to help this defense rebound from a miserable year.
Now, the only thing holding back Gentry is injuries. He's sat out of camp with a back issue and hasn't practiced. SMU's younger players need to step up if Gentry's absence continues. This injury could become a nagging issue that could hurt his season.