Sports Illustrated featured Cam Newton, IMG Academy and Chris Weinke in an article in their latest issue hitting newsstands this week. The article chronicles how Cam was able to reach the success he is having in his first few NFL games.
Read the full story at SI.com or pick up a copy at your local newsstand.
BRADENTON, FLA., FIRST WEEK IN MAY
It was an unusual arrangement in one of the strangest years in NFL history. Newton was drafted in New York City on the night of Thursday, April 28. Because of a one-day court-imposed hiatus in the labor impasse between owners and players, during which teams were allowed to resume operations, Newton spent the day after the draft at Panthers headquarters in Charlotte. He met with coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and, most important, got a copy of the playbook.
Soon after the lockout resumed on April 30, Newton moved with his father and two brothers into a 2,000-square-foot, four-bedroom villa on the grounds of the IMG Academy in Bradenton. There he'd participate in a daily workout regimen designed by IMG's Chris Weinke, the 2000 Heisman Trophy--winning quarterback, to mirror an NFL off-season program. "We tried to create the environment he would have had without the lockout," says Weinke, who was 1--14 as a rookie starter with Carolina in 2001, the first of his six seasons with the team.
George Whitfield, the California-based quarterbacks coach who tutored Newton before the February combine, also came in for the sessions, along with former NFL QB Ken Dorsey, then with IMG and now a scout for the Panthers. Newton's expenses were paid entirely by Under Armour, the athletic equipment manufacturer with whom he has an endorsement contract. Other NFL players participated, including Vikings backup quarterbacks Joe Webb and Christian Ponder (like Newton a rookie), and first-year Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb.
Newton's IMG stay included not only daily physical training (throwing, lifting, drills) but also long classroom sessions during which Weinke taught Newton the Carolina offense and then schooled him in videotape study. On one of their first days together Weinke challenged Newton. Like most football fans, he had viewed the ESPN session in which former NFL coach Jon Gruden tells Newton that NFL play-calling language can be overwhelming and says to him, "Call something at Auburn that's a little verbal... . Give me something. What's an Auburn play sound like?"
Newton stammered that Gruden was putting him on the spot and could come up with nothing more complex than "Thirty-six." So after Newton had studied the Carolina playbook for a few days, Weinke sent him to a whiteboard and asked him to repeat, and draw up, the following play: Deuce right (formation), Nasty fly (motion), Scat right (protection), Spray 834 (the route tree, in the Coryell "digit" system), Y pivot (tagging the Y receiver with an additional move), H swing M (also tagging the H-back).
According to Weinke, Newton repeated the play flawlessly and drew it cleanly on the board. "I wanted to see what he was capable of learning," says Weinke. "And there was no question that he had studied that playbook. It was unbelievable. I had seen the Gruden thing, so I was shocked at what he could actually doâpleasantly so." Before training camp started, Weinke, Whitfield and Dorsey had Newton on the practice field, throwing every route; they were even shouting out defensive situations that forced Newton to check off certain receivers, albeit without actual defenders.