There may not have been an MVP or even a guaranteed spot in the finals handed out at the Elite 11 Regionals in Dallas on Saturday, but one signal-caller still stood out: Novato (Calif.) San Marin quarterback Manny Wilkins, who took home the event's Golden Gun award.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder took home a nifty Pro Combat t-shirt with his title emblazoned across the front in gold foil print. Not a bad start to the camp circuit, but far from the lofty goals Wilkins has set for himself.
"It was just a weird day," Wilkins said. "Everyone had their ups and their downs. I felt like I did well at the beginning of the day, but towards the end, I don't know what happened. Everything started going down the drain. I wasn't throwing well. When we got to the final routes on air, I felt like I just threw badly. It was a long day."
Wilkins was among a cadre of top slingers in the nation who gathered in Texas to compete, including David Cornwell, Justice Hansen and Jerrod Heard, and he intends to go right back at it on Sunday in the Dallas-Fort Worth NFTC event.
"I'm going to the NFTC tomorrow, too, so I'm going to try and compete out there, too," said Wilkins, who's arm will be just fine going on back-to-back days. "It's not an issue at all. My arm will be completely fine. I'm just going to go out there and compete like I always do, so I'll be completely fine. I'm not going to make any excuses."
Wilkins will also pull the back-to-back later in the spring when he competes at the Santa Clara Elite 11 Regional and the NFTC event in Oakland on May 19.
"That's my big focus, is the Nor Cal one, in Santa Clara," Wilkins said. "I wanted to get out here to throw against the best in the country."
Getting to participate in the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional helped to prepare Wilkins for a big showing back home in Northern California. How much did it help?
"Oh, a lot, a lot," Wilkins said. "Hopefully I can go out there and dominate. I was hoping on doing it today, and I did at the beginning, but the end got a little rough for me. Hopefully, I have a good day throughout the whole thing, get to the pressure cooker and bring the MVP home."
Wilkins will also make an appearance in June at California's one-day elite camp at Memorial Stadium, where he's hoping to land an offer from the Bears, after already reeling in two from Arizona and Utah State, with Arizona State also showing interest.
"I talk to the coaches often," Wilkins said of Cal. "I talk with the staff and coach Dykes often, so I think we talk a lot and I think the chemistry is really good, so we'll see how that goes."
Although neither Wilkins nor anyone else took home an MVP, he did take home some important advice from event coach Trent Dilfer that he'll be able to use both in his next Elite 11 appearance, and at the Bears camp.
"He told me to be myself and just go out there and throw like I always throw," Wilkins said. "Don't hold any pressure on myself, relax and just do what I do best, and that's slinging the ball."
The Man With the Golden Gun
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