Having a talented quarterback means you have a good chance at winning many football games. Everybody knows that. When you have two talented quarterbacks that can create a dilemma and some controversy. Welcome to the 2017 Arizona State quarterback situation.
The situation was made much clearer a few days ago when head coach Todd Graham announced that Manny Wilkins would be the starting quarterback for the Arizona State Sun Devils. This decision might have raised a few eyebrows around Tempe.
I was not surprised in the least about Wilkins winning the job over Blake Barnett. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Barnett had won the job either.
Both guys are talented, both have what it takes to start in a Power 5 Conference, and both know that they would be a bad start or two away from being replaced by the other guy.
From the start of spring practice it has been known that the starting job really came down to these two guys. To think otherwise would have been a mistake. The players behind these two top candidates for quarterback just don’t measure up to what Coach Graham wants in a starting quarterback right now.
Manny Wilkins measures up.
Manny Wilkins has raised the level of his game. There is no doubt about that. Even Wilkins has admitted that much.
“I’ve seen a whole other side of me come out. A whole other dog in me come out. My mindset hasn’t changed, move the football down the field, score points, have those fireworks go off at Sun Devil Stadium.” Wilkins stated. (azfamily.com)
When your starting quarterback mentions that “dog” side of him coming out more that is what got my attention. Everybody on that Sun Devil football team wants a leader who will be a fighter for them. The offense wants a guy that they can believe in. Having this tough, dog mentality has certainly helped Wilkins endear himself to the team.
The Sun Devils believe that Wilkins is that fighter they have lacked in the past.
Here’s the other thing that I know about Manny Wilkins. The guys on the team love him. He’s a great locker room presence. He’s the last one to leave practice, he’s the first one in. The rest of the team knows that their quarterback puts in the work to be great. Wilkins is a leader on the field and off the field.
Manny Wilkins is the guy that attracts people to him.
Sun Devil fans hope the Wilkins doesn’t attract many defenders to him in 2017. Manny made his highlight real in 2016 full of jumping defenders. Todd Graham hopes that the leaping is few and far between in 2017.
ASU started off last year by winning their first five of six ballgames and then the bottom fell out of the Sun Devil season.
Part of that bottom falling out was due to the fact that Wilkins went down with an injury. An injury that basically sidelined him for the rest of the season. The coaching staff tried to keep the injury statements to a minimum, but it was hard to stop the speculation by fans and media.
During the Spring Football Media Day Coach Graham told me what everybody already knew. Manny Wilkins injury was a more severe than the program let on.
“Manny was playing at about 60%. He was hurt more than we let on. Obviously, we are not going to tell everything to everybody.” Graham said.
Coaches protect their players. Graham is no different in that respect.
As I mentioned earlier, Manny puts the time and effort in to make himself better for the betterment of the Sun Devils. Wilkins knows what he has to do better to push Arizona State to victory.
The film room is where he does his work.
“I’ve had a chance to see game film that I didn’t have before last season on myself. It’s about playing with a certain amount of risk in certain situations. If it’s 1st and 10, I shouldn’t be going out there and taking a lick when it could be 2nd and 2. If it’s 4th and 6, you’re damn right I am going to lay my body on the line because it’s my job to win football games.” Wilkins said. (azfamily.com)
With that statement right there he should win over the locker room and the court of public opinion.
Sun Devil fans, you got a fighter in Manny Wilkins. Let’s hope the fighter stays upright more often in 2017. The longer Manny Wilkins stays on the field, the better the chance the Sun Devils have at winning games.