Putting on a Show

Manny Wilkins throws for the second time in front of a Cal coach, this time with offensive coordinator Tony Franklin in the stands. He also breaks down what a Cal offer could mean to his recruitment, his relationship with Jared Goff and his preparation for the Elite 11.

Novato (Calif.) San Marin quarterback Manny Wilkins is focused. He's dialed in. When he's on a football field, there are just two people, as far as he's concerned: Himself and his chosen receiver. But, on Monday, he couldn't resist looking into the stands more than a few times. California offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was in attendance – the second Bears coach who's seen him throw this spring.

"It went really well. I think I threw pretty well, in my eyes, and in my eyes, me saying I threw well means that I threw pretty well, so I'm happy with what we did, and he was smiling the whole time and everything, messing around, fooling around. They're a bunch of jokesters on that staff, so it was cool to have him out, and I really enjoyed it," Wilkins said on Monday night.

Wilkins has been working toward a Cal offer ever since the new staff came to Berkeley. Throwing for both Franklin and offensive line coach Zach Yenser, setting up a camp date with the Bears, paying multiple visits to campus – it's all been for that elusive offer. Working so hard for that scholarship has put it on a bit of a pedestal for the four-star signal-caller, who already has offers from Arizona, Colorado State, Utah State and Wyoming.

"Cal's offense this year, I have a feeling, is going to be one of the best in the country," Wilkins said. "They have a great coaching staff coming from La Tech, and that offense clicked. It's going to do some damage to some teams, especially in the Pac-12. It has the possibility to be as efficient and a lot better than Oregon's offense. It's going to be a great fit. Whoever gets the spot at quarterback is going to have a lot of attention on them, and it's going to be a big thing. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what they do. It's going to be cool. It makes it even that much better that it's right in my back yard and I can check it out whenever."

Wilkins has more than his fair share of connections to the Bears, from acquaintance Zach Kline to childhood friend Jared Goff to of course, the hometown-club factor.

An offer from the Bears is a bit vexing, though, for Wilkins, who has grown up with Cal, but also with two of the possible future quarterbacks – players with whom he'd be in direct competition should he get that offer and commit. The one thing the offer isn't though, is scary.

"To be honest, it's not scary, at all," Wilkins said. "The way I look at it is, it's just another level of awesome. It's just a win-win situation. I would love to play with Jared. He's a great guy. He's one of my best friends. Having that experience his first year at the same position, it could be sketch, but the kinds of people that we are – not self-centered people and willing to help others and stuff like that and get better together instead of get better by yourself – I think it just makes it that much better.

"On the other hand, would it be cool to go against him on another team in the Pac-12? Sure. We've been playing against each other since we were seven-, nine-, 10-years old. It's just another level of awesome, and I can't be more happy for him and for the place he's in right now and the opportunity he's going to have if he gets that starting spot. I'm really looking forward to it. This whole process gets better and better."

On Monday, Wilkins threw about 80 passes, with, he said, three bad throws and "a couple" dropped balls for Franklin in a tailor-made passing session, since spring football doesn't begin for nearly a month. Last season, Wilkins went 135-for-271 (49.8%) for 2,335 yards, 10 picks and 19 touchdowns, while rushing 152 times for 567 yards and seven touchdowns, and he knows he has a lot to improve on. He said he throws upwards of four times during the week, and once every weekend with QB coach Roger Theder. This past weekend, he threw with former San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis.

"When I do my passing routes, the first time I go through, I do it under center, because I think it's key to show them that I'm not just a dual-threat guy, that I can get out of that pocket really quickly and my feet work with me and I know myself," Wilkins said. "The next one, I mix it in with every route, out of shotgun, play action, roll out, bang post with a little play action, looking the opposite way, just giving them a sense that I can do it all. That's what I did, and I think I showed them everything he probably wanted to see. I don't know exactly how their drills go, or I would have set it up running his drills, but I did what I normally do and relaxed out there. I was really calm."

Before spring ball starts for Wilkins, though, there's one more task to be ticked off: Get the Elite 11 finals invite. He'll take his second crack at that next week at the Northern California Elite 11 Regionals.

"I'm super-stoked. There's going to be a lot of talent out there," Wilkins said. "When I went to Dallas, I put too much on it. When you put too much on it, you're not yourself. I just need to be relaxed and show them that I can be one of the best quarterbacks in the country. In my mind, I am one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and I work my butt off to prove it. The grind will never stop, even if I do have that opportunity to potentially become No. 1, I'm still going to work like I'm No. 2. It's a thing that I've always had on my mind. At the end of the day, I have to go out there and play to the best of my ability. That's what we're going out to the Elite 11 to do: Get great coaching and get better at what we do."

He's even gotten a bit of advice on throwing for coaches and for the Elite 11 from his future competition (one way or the other): Goff.

"Just being a completion junkie. That's one thing that Jared's taught me, is, when you go out there, it's not all about throwing 100 miles an hour, every throw. You've got to have touch on some throws," Wilkins said. :If there's one thing a lot of coaches want to see, it's you being a completion junkie, putting the ball where it needs to be every time you throw the ball. When you're in college, that's expected of you. That's what my main thing was, and I think I did really well. I think there were a couple dropped passes here and there, but overall, there were three bad throws, so it was pretty good, and I was happy with the performance."

BearTerritory.net Top Stories