Manny Wilkins set to return from injury, start against Utah
Nov 8, 2016, 8:21 AM
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
For the first time since 2009, Arizona State has started three quarterbacks in the same season as sophomore Manny Wilkins, redshirt freshman Brady White and true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole have all earned starts this year.
Wilkins won ASU’s first open quarterback competition since 2012 outright in fall camp, but since suffering a high ankle sprain against USC in late September, the Sun Devils’ signal-caller has battled various injuries that have held him out of action and limited his effectiveness when he has played.
After sitting out of the Sun Devils’ matchup with the Oregon Ducks last Saturday with an upper body injury, Wilkins is poised to return to the starting lineup when ASU hosts Utah on Thursday evening.
At Sunday’s practice, Wilkins was a full participant in warmups, individual drills and a team tempo period open to the media. After not throwing the ball in portions of practices open to the media last week, Wilkins was throwing passes in individual drills and led the first-team offense during the 11-on-11 period Sunday.
“It’s great to have him back, and I think it’s obviously been tough,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said. “Dillon’s (Sterling-Cole) done a good job, but obviously the experience, the reps and all of those things are big and in that Washington State game when he (Wilkins) was in, it just impacts us to have him.”
Wilkins isn’t the only key player who has been hampered by injuries of late, as nine different Sun Devils’ starters were held out of the team’s 54-35 loss against the Ducks last Saturday.
With a depth chart decimated by injuries, ASU eased its practice schedule during the team’s bye week and didn’t practice in pads. As a result, Graham said most of the players who missed Saturday’s game should be healthier and available to play against the Utes.
“We look to have him (Wilkins) back, Demario (Richard) will be back, the other thing in the secondary, having Kareem (Orr) and Armand (Perry) back, we’re hoping to have Salamo (Fiso) back, we won’t have Christian (Sam) back, I think other than maybe a lineman or two we should be pretty healthy.”
Richard, Orr and Perry all practiced with the rest of ASU’s starters during the team’s 11-on-11 period Sunday morning, but Fiso and linemen Sam Jones and Stephon McCray were all held out of drills.
With Fiso out, ASU shifted junior pass rusher Koron Crump to Sam linebacker against Oregon, and on Sunday, Crump continued to practice with the first-team defense at Sam.
With Jones and McCray out, ASU shifted sophomore right tackle Quinn Bailey inside to right guard and elevated redshirt freshmen Steve Miller and Zach Robertson into the lineup at left guard and right tackle respectively.
After Sunday’s practice, Graham said the Sun Devils’ bye week helped the team improve its overall health, and that ASU focused on regaining rhythm after a short break in their normal schedule.
“It helped a lot and we took a lot of time off,” Graham said. “We had a good fundamental day today for our timing and that kind of stuff and we had a good practice today.”
News and notes
• Senior wide receiver Tim White was not at practice Sunday morning. White played against Oregon last Saturday, but was limited to playing only on special teams due to a lower body injury.
• Jones and McCray did not participate in warmups or drills Sunday morning and instead stood off the side of warmups. Both players had been in walking boots after suffering injuries against Colorado and Oregon, respectively, but neither player is wearing a walking boot anymore.
• Junior wide receiver Cameron Smith warmed up in the injury line Sunday, and then joined Jones and McCray at Muscle Beach where the trio stretched alongside junior linebacker Christian Sam.
• Sophomore defensive back Das Tautalatasi suffered an injury during individual drills and needed to be helped off the field by ASU’s training staff. Once Tautalatasi was off to the side of field, the training staff looked at his groin/quad area.
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