Hollywood, Calif. — During the summer, ASU quarterback Manny Wilkins was given near-unlimited access to practice at the air-conditioned Verde Dicky Dome. He made the call, someone came to open it. Three to four times a week, Wilkins would round up teammates to go throw with him in the dome.
To him, those reps in the dome, that time spent with his teammates can make the difference. The difference in proving the media that picked ASU to finish last in the Pac-12 South right or wrong. And possibly the difference between leaving the program on the right note or with a sour taste.
On top of now watching more film than ever before, he and wide receiver N’Keal Harry often stay on the practice field for 30 to 45 minutes after each practice, even after more than two years together.
If nothing else, for every game and every snap in his final season, Wilkins will be prepared.
But his preparation extends to life after football. As some try to ride out the game for as many days and dollars as possible, the California native is realistic. Even if he made the NFL, the average NFL career is about three years, he still wouldn’t be set.
So, as he’s done all his life for football, Wilkins has already started preparing for his post-football life. By no means is that an indication he’s pushing his football career to the backseat to better-off after it, but all careers come to an end. And when that happens for Wilkins, he’ll be ready.
“I understand the importance of building a network with people which is why I do my best to get out and go to these social events that happen at ASU and just kind of put my name out there with some of these people who are apart of ASU,” Wilkins said at Pac-12 Media Day Wednesday.
“I think golf plays a real big factor in that of just taking people out, hanging out and it gives you a chance to really mesh with them.”
The third-year starter views the game of golf as something that could be very beneficial to him later on. As the character Jim Halpert learned in an episode of the TV show “The Office,” 18 holes may be just enough to close a deal.
Wilkins plays regardless on its benefits to his possible future, but should it, he’ll be all set.
“I want to get really into it more and more and more because of business opportunities, take clients out, that type of thing obviously when football’s over,” he said.
New ASU head coach Herm Edwards described football as a vehicle to “find what else you are going to do after football,” illustrating a scenario his quarterback likely won’t end up in.
“Eventually it ends,” Edwards said. “And then you sit there in this world and you’re going, ‘I’m a man now and what did I learn out of football. Just to learn how to play football?’”
The sport teaches lessons beneficial for other jobs. On the golf course, Wilkins sees the correlation between the two sports constantly.
“When a bad play happens, just make sure you go to the next play. Making sure you’re just staying on top of your mental game,” Wilkins said. “And I think golf is more mental than any sport because if you mess up your thoughts in your backswing, it’s going to mess your swing up. If you misread a putt, it’s because you’re not thinking about it the right way.”
The 6-foot-3 gunslinger didn’t go into great detail about good he is out on the links but when asked what club he would grab from 120-yards out, Wilkins said he’d opt for a 56-degree wedge and “smoke it.”