For much of the offseason, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham said his starting quarterback would be revealed Sept. 3 when his team took the field against Northern Arizona.
He kept his decision close to the vest for a long time, but let the news slip Friday morning.
“When we take the first snap, Manny (Wilkins) will run out there with the first group,” Graham told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Wilkins, a redshirt sophomore from Novato, Calif., is the only quarterback on the roster with any game experience at the college level. As a backup to Mike Bercovici last season, Wilkins ran the ball seven times for 55 yards in very limited duty. He did not attempt a pass. He was part of a three-player position battle in fall camp with redshirt freshmen Brady White and Bryce Perkins, the latter of which suffered a neck injury in camp and is sidelined for a considerable amount of time.
Just because Wilkins leading the first team Saturday night doesn’t mean that the evaluation at the position is over.
“We’re going to run Manny out there with the first group, he’s earned that,” he said. “But we’ve got great confidence in Brady as well. Manny’s our guy to run out with the first group and we’ll go from there.
“We’ve got great confidence in both those guys, and, if Bryce was able to play, we felt that there was a very unique skill set with him. And our freshman, Dillon Sterling-Cole, is something special. We’re excited about the future with him.”
Wilkins, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 197 pounds, was a three-star recruit in Graham’s 2014 class. He chose ASU over offers from Arizona, Colorado State, Utah State and Wyoming. He’ll become the third opening-day starter at quarterback for Graham in the last three years.
“Manny is a guy that’s here. Obviously, he’s the elder statesman of the group even though he’s only a sophomore,” Graham said. “Manny’s a guy with a great heart. He’s a great athlete, he can make all the throws. He’s been very consistent in the offense and taking care of the ball. He’s a guy that can extend plays with his legs and really does a great job of distributing the football.”
Arizona State fans will get their first look at the new starting quarterback at around 8:00 p.m. Saturday night. The game can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM with play-by-play announcer Tim Healey, analyst Jeff Van Raaphorst and sideline reporter Derek Hagan.