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After injuring his foot and not being able to perform at the NFL Combine, former Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill will host dozens of NFL coaches and scouts at his Pro Day today in College Station.
How has he prepared for it? By working extensively with IMG Academy football program Director Chris Weinke and other Performance experts at IMG Academy.
The USA Today today ran a feature on the cover of its Sports section chronicling Tannehill and Weinke's work with him and other quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and others.
Weinke, 39, was once the guy throwing the passes, leading Florida State to an undefeated season and national championship in 1999 and winning the Heisman Trophy in 2000 before graduating to an NFL career. Now he's leading a new wave of coaches, joining other former players in tutoring some of the country's most talented passers.
They're not on college or NFL team coaching staffs. And they won't be found on a sideline in the fall. Instead they're on practice fields working as so-called quarterback gurus.
"The words 'quarterback guru' kind of scare me," Weinke says. "I know this: I love what I do. It's one thing to say you're a college or NFL quarterback coach/coordinator. But there's no job in the world that compares to this. We have an opportunity to change lives."
Weinke has impacted a who's who of quarterback talent, working last year with Cam Newton (first overall pick, Carolina Panters) and Christian Ponder (12th overall, Minnesota Vikings) and this spring taking on Tannehill; Michigan State's Kirk Cousins; Wisconsin's Russell Wilson; Joe Montana's sons, Nate and Nick, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Josh Freeman.
"Chris as a coach is perfect at what he does," says Newton, who was back to work with Weinke this month after throwing for a rookie-record 4,051 yards last season. "He knows what buttons to push with anybody from 7-years-old all the way up to me."
Weinke is a 6-4, 235-pound straight shooter with an easy smile, hard-won wisdom and no tolerance for slackers.
"Either a guy is willing to buy in and do the work or not," Weinke says. "I simply provided Cam with a structured environment and guidance to hopefully elevate his game."
...After his 90-minute workout with Tannehill in a group that includesBoston Collegelinebacker Luke Kuechly and local high school receiver Garrett Pratt, Weinke extols Tannehill's upside as a receiver-turned-quarterback with 19 starts.
"Ryan is throwing the ball as good as I've ever seen," Weinke says. "He's got all the tools and is going to be special."
TheMiami Dolphins, who select eighth, would be a natural landing spot considering his former Texas A&M coach,Mike Sherman, is the Dolphins' offensive coordinator.
Seattle Seahawks coachPete Carroll, whose team has the 12th pick, also has interest despite recently signing veteranMatt Flynn. "We are considering Tannehill," he says.
Tannehill hasn't taken a day off since January, following his mentor's indefatigable example.
"Cam and Christian ended up getting a lot better and playing well working with Chris," Tannehill says. "That's the end goal â to start and play well in the NFL."
Recovered from January surgery for a broken foot, Tannehill watches video of his first day throwing on the move. Weinke switches to Tannehill and Texas A&M falling to Arkansas in 2011. He pauses and then calls Tannehill to the white board: "Draw that play up."
"Chris and I are on the same page talking plays and protections," Tannehill says. "I've gotten so much better in my time here being smoother in my drops and not aiming the ball."