On Monday, two schools watched Novato (Calif.) San Marin quarterback Manny Wilkins sling the rock around the yard, and as the 6-foot-3, 185-pound four-star signal-caller said, he "absolutely ripped it," in front of California and Duke.
After an up-and-down day at the Elite 11 camp earlier this month in Dallas, Tex., Wilkins made a few adjustments both in his demeanor and his preparation for this throwing session.
"I think my biggest thing in Dallas was that I was just putting way too much on it. I hadn't been to coach Theder in a few weeks, so I went to coach Theder yesterday just to polish up, and went out today and absolutely ripped it," Wilkins said.
What did the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder change the most?
"Just not being, ‘Oh, my God, coaches are here! I need to be completely serious; I need to be sitting there and being yes-sir-no-sir.' I just went out there with my guys, cracked a couple jokes and acted like it was just another day," Wilkins said. "You can't change your work ethic can't change, just because somebody's coming out. That's a big thing for colleges; They're going to give thousands of dollars to a person to come to school, so it's a big deal for them to see character. I enjoy being out there. I'm not a serious guy when I'm out there. I laughed and I had fun with the guys that I was throwing with."
That happy-go-lucky attitude meshes quite well with the new Cal football staff, which has proven to be quite high-energy.
"I've built quite a relationship with coach Yenser. He's a really cool guy, and I talk to him a couple times a week, and coach Franklin, also. I talked to coach Dykes last night, so I've got my full Bear Raid in me right now," Wilkins laughed. "I'm very fortunate to have the new staff so high on me, so I think it's king of cool that I'm one of their top guys and I'm definitely looking forward to see what's to come."
As fortunate as Wilkins feels to have the hometown team come calling, and to be so heavily recruiting him, he'd be lying if he wasn't at least a bit conflicted. He says that Jared Goff being at Cal is a "big thing for me," but when asked if big was good or bad, even he didn't have an answer.
"It depends on what I feel like what's going to happen when I get in college," Wilkins said. "Do I want to go somewhere where I can play Jared? Of course. I think it's cool that he has the opportunity to become the starter this year. If he becomes the starter, that's going to change a lot of recruits' lives, because he'll be one of those guys that stays in college for four years, gets his degree and then makes his way to the NFL. He's a very smart kid, and the sky's the limit for him. I'm pretty sure the coaches see that, also."
The only question for Wilkins, it seems, is whether he wants to compete with Goff while wearing the same uniform, or wearing a different one.
"It's all just another level of awesome," Wilkins said. "I talk with him every week, we're really, really good friends, and he tells me what goes on. He was pretty stoked about the new uniforms – those are pretty crazy – and he's the exact representation of a Golden Bear. He's been a Golden Bear since last March. He's completely fired up about the season, and I know he's ready to compete, also."
On May 17, Wilkins will participate in the Elite 11 Oakland Regional, and, as he said, "time flies," as after that, he'll be throwing again for the Bears during a June camp.
"I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to make my homecoming blow up," Wilkins said. "I don't need to, but I look forward to doing really well there."
Wilkins Slings it for Two Suitors
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