ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins knows the fear most coaches have when spring ball ends and players go there own way for the summer.
“Dudes could be at home playing video games all day,” Wilkins said.
It’s a real threat to the team’s spring progress. Without supervision, structure and coaches at the ready, players have to seek out places to train at, people to train with and a schedule to stick to.
Arizona State’s sports performance coach Joe Connolly gives the Devils a summer program for lifting, according to Wilkins, and wide receiver Frank Darby says that Connolly sent out scripts of the things players should be doing including a chart of muscles to work on during their last break.
Wilkins said he’ll train in Tempe with Connolly because “he knows what my body is and how my body works. So, I like to be on the plan that he has us on because I think what he’s doing is really good.”
Beyond that, though, the Sun Devils are forced to practice on their own.
Wide receiver N’Keal Harry understands the long haul of summer work, he just wants to make it fun.
“In the summer, I kind of use the grind with my friends. I catch up with a lot of people from high school,” Harry said “We usually hit the gym, go to the field to do some field work.”
Harry said that during the team’s last break, ASU corner, and Harry’s former teammate at Chandler High School, Chase Lucas, along as some of their high school opponents including former Desert Vista running back T.J. Roberts and former Saguaro and current Washington defensive back Byron Murphy all hit the gym together and did some field work.
“It kind of humbles you a little bit because when you think back on how much you went through with those guys in high school,” Harry said. “It’s rewarding.”
Darby joined Harry and and his friends from high school on the Devils last break and noticed one thing very quickly: “They love football out here,” he said.
Darby said their last session lasted for three hours of straight just running routes — something he had never done before, he said.
“I stopped. I couldn’t do it anymore,” Darby said. “I was like, ‘It’s hot and y’all still out here running routes?’ You’ve got N’Keal out there and you know he’s so competitive. He wants to compete, he wants to be the last one off the field.”
Darby said whoever isn’t going on a specific route will just act as a quarterback and throughout it all, the trash talk rains in.
He said Harry and everyone else will “talk crap” to each other on how their seasons went — Harry started laughing when asked if he was going to bring up ASU’s 13-7 victory over Washington earlier this year to Murphy.
Harry said he will also be getting together with his roommate Wilkins, and some of the other ASU quarterbacks, to connect and practice together to keep their timing down. Wilkins already has a place to go.
The redshirt senior says that the Verde Dickey Dome, or “bubble,” is now open whenever he wants it to be — all he has to do is make a call and someone will come open it up for him.
“I just go over there and call the boys up and go over there and throw in the summer,” Wilkins said. “If they want us to be great, and we want to get some work in inside the bubble in the offseason. . . I think that they’re completely ok with it.”
Darby, however, is still searching for some possible training places.
He operates in some 21st century networking by researching some different athletes and trainers on social media to inquire about possibly coming out for a training session.
Last summer, Darby saw an ad for a facility called Elite U on Instagram that showed all types of athletes, including NFL players, working out there.
“Being a football player, you want to be a part of that so you’re going to find out what’s going on,” Darby said. “Who the person is, what things that he does and how much he charges so you can be a part of it, too.”
Darby said the one hour sessions usually cost him about $40-$45 but getting a new perspective is immensely valuable.
“It builds confidence,” he said. “I love when people would tell me like, ‘Oh, you’ve got this. You could do this, you could do that.’
“It gives me that joy like, ‘Yeah, he’s probably right. I probably could do this.’”