ASU football: QB commit Wilkins may be key to future

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                </div>The strategic nature of college football is a lot like chess, and Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is, like any good chess player, trying to stay a couple moves […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The strategic nature of college football is a lot like chess, and Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is, like any good chess player, trying to stay a couple moves ahead of the competition.

His acquisition last week of a young quarterback who still has another year of high school is a good example.

Manny Wilkins, a four-star prospect from California, committed to ASU after a campus visit last weekend gave the Sun Devils the edge over a handful of other scholarship offers on the table – including one from the University of Arizona Wildcats.

He will arrive on the Tempe campus in the summer of 2014 to complete the first chess move.  But Wilkins says plans are for him to redshirt his freshman year so he’s ready to step in when Graham loses his current starting quarterback, Taylor Kelly, to graduation in 2014 and his two primary back-ups, Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank, the next year.  That’s the one-step-ahead move.

Wilkins may definitely be worth waiting for.  After his junior year at San Marin High School in Novato, the 6’3″ dual-threat quarterback was listed by Scout.com as the second-best signal caller in the state of California and the No. 15 in the nation at his position.  And he has another year to improve on that.

At San Marin last year, he threw for 2,335 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for 567 yards and seven scores.  He connected on 49.8 percent of his pass attempts and had 10 interceptions.

Graham undoubtedly feels his offense is in good hands for the coming season, when Taylor should be playing with the confidence of an experienced senior.  As a junior he set a school record with a 67.1 completion percentage in his passing game, and his 29 touchdown passes were the second-most in school history.

Wilkins, on the other hand, brings potential.  His high school coach, Steve Stanfel, says the kid has a strong arm that’s also very accurate, is a mobile quarterback with deceptive speed, and has leadership qualities.

Granted, he’s not Kyle Allen, the senior from Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale who is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation this year.  That’s a five-star recruit in his backyard that got away.

But Wilkins isn’t a bad consolation prize.  And he seems committed to following through on his verbal and signing on the dotted line next February.

“I didn’t make make this decision just to rush my decision,” he explained in an article in the Marin Independent Journal.  “I made this decision because I felt comfortable and I know that (ASU) is the place that I want to go to school.

“I’m really stoked for the opportunity they’re giving me and I’m going to take advantage of that support every day.”

Sounds like this may prove to be a really insightful move by Graham.  But only time will tell.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)