With a new regime coming in and the New Leadership Model kicking into gear with the hiring of Herm Edwards, ASU football has endured its fair share of change this offseason. One key position, though is solidified at the top: the quarterback. Lets take a look at what the 2018 season has to offer:
The Players: Manny Wilkins will be returning for his redshirt senior season and third season as the starter. Behind him sit only two other players on scholarship. Dillon Sterling-Cole will begin his junior campaign as the backup and behind him is redshirt freshman Ryan Kelley of Chandler.
Wilkins: Wilkins has started under center the past two seasons. The clear front-runner this season also impressed during spring camp. In his time at ASU, he has thrown for 5,599 yards, 32 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. An impressive showing that outweighs his 11-12 record as a starter.
Sterling-Cole - The junior first hit the field during the 2016 season. He was an injury replacement for Wilkins and because Brady White was out for the season. Sterling-Cole in his ASU career has passed for 388 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
Kelley: The former Basha quarterback committed on May 6th, 2016. He is 6-foot-3, 188-pounds and listed as a pro-style QB.
Who left: Wilkins had been the starter the past two seasons, edging out Alabama transfer Blake Barnett and White. Both Barnett and White have left. Barnett transferred to USF to fight for a starting job while White has transferred to Memphis to attempt the same. These departures cleared room for Sterling-Cole to secure the backup spot.
Barnett: Barnett rarely saw field time at ASU. After transferring to Tempe from Alabama, he failed to beat out Wilkins for the starting spot and only took a few snaps for the maroon and gold before transferring to his third school.
White: White’s time at ASU never got rolling due to an injury sustained against UCLA in 2016. The highly-touted gunslinger’s arm looked phenomenal during practice last season in the few, non-contact throws the media was able to see him make. He now joins former ASU offensive coordinator Mike Norvell at Memphis.
What changed: Other than the QB departures, a lot. New head coach Herm Edwards, who was hired back in November, will be the second head coach during Wilkins time at ASU. Edwards brought in his own staff at a majority of the coaching roles but promoted Rob Likens from wide receiver coach to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
The most notable fact about this change is that this the fourth offensive coordinator in as many years. Wilkins has been the subject for all of them: Mike Norvell, Chip Lindsey, Billy Napier and now Likens. Wilkins was first a starter for Lindsey who is currently the OC at Auburn.
What to expect come September: Wilkins is the starter, and for the first time in his career he enters fall camp with no doubts about that. Wilkins has the most experience, good relationships with his receiving core and the best opportunity to further prove himself in his final season.
Sterling-Cole has started before as a true freshman against Oregon in 2016 but it isn’t enough to overtake Wilkins’ spot. Wilkins has clearly defined his play style and his leadership role on this Sun Devil offense.