Manny's the man: Wilkins still ASU's starting quarterback

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ASU junior Manny Wilkins heads into the season at the Sun Devils starter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) ASU junior Manny Wilkins heads into the season at the Sun Devils starter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Manny Wilkins leaps over a defender during ASU's 2016 win over Texas Tech Manny Wilkins leaps over a defender during ASU's 2016 win over Texas Tech
TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It’s been the question for ASU football all spring: Who will play quarterback? 

Heading into next Thursday’s season opener against New Mexico State, incumbent Manny Wilkins is still the starter over Alabama transfer Blake Barnett.

“Obviously, Manny is the starter until Blake beats him out,” said ASU Head Coach Todd Graham.

Wilkins started 10 games for the Sun Devils in 2016. He threw 12 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and wowed ASU fans with his leaps over defenders. The quarterback competition has helped Wilkins find new ways to lead the offense.

“I’ve seen a whole other side of me come out. A whole other dog in me come out” said Wilkins. “My mindset hasn’t changed, move the football down the field, score points, have those fireworks go off at Sun Devil Stadium.”

Wilkins’ leaps were the highlights of a disappointing season in 2016. After winning their first four games, ASU lost six straight to finish the season including the finale, 56-35 at their rival Arizona. Wilkins missed the UCLA and Oregon games with injury. He vows to use his legs more wisely this season.

“I’ve had a chance to see game film that I didn’t have before last season on myself,” said Wilkins. “It’s about playing with a certain level of risk, in certain situations. If it’s 1st and 10, I shouldn’t be going out there and taking a lick to get an extra yard when it could be 2nd and 2. But if it’s 4th and 6, game on the line, you’re damn right I’m gonna lay my body on the line because it’s my job to win football games.”

Barnett left Alabama following the 2016 season opening loss to USC. He was a 5-star recruit coming out of Santiago High School in Corona, California.

“I think Blake has really elevated Manny and vice versa,” said Graham. “They’ve both made each other better and they’ll continue to compete.  It will be a competition every day.”

The competition will continue on Thursday August 31 when New Mexico State visits Sun Devil Stadium.

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