It's rare that the signing of a fringe player, or 'camp body' can give you some insight into what players they could be looking at, but with the signing of Chris Manno there are some curious correlations we're starting to see. Manno was present at IMG Academy with Cam Newton, and both of whom were under the tutelage (at least partly) of former QB Ken Dorsey, now one of the Carolina Panthers pro-scouts.
There's little reason for the Panthers to bring in a player like Manno unless he got the stamp of approval from both Newton and Dorsey, so I thought it might be apropos to look at some other players who were present at IMG while Cam was there to see if we can find any more links.
As it stands the Panthers have met with at least two prospects who are either currently at IMG, or at one point did spend time there- Justin Blackmon and Luke Kuechly. It would be naive to think Dorsey doesn't retain contact with Chris Weinke and the other IMG trainers to get a good sense for how these guys are working out. In this way the organization are able get an inside track on these players. For Blackmon, it has been reported he spent time in Brandenton last year while Cam was there, which could be invaluable if he falls to no.9, while Kuechly is there in 2012 and focusing on weight training.
More after the jump
It's not just players the Panthers could be looking at in the top 10 who we should keep an eye on at IMG. Currently Russell Wilson is one of several QBs under the direction of Chris Weinke, and with that ever present notion that we need an athletic backup he's still one player to watch.
There are two WRs who could be available at pick #40 also with Rutgers' Mohamed Sanu and Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill both currently working at IMG. As we talked about last night the Panthers have spent a lot of time looking at smaller, faster WRs and while neither Sanu nor Hill are small, the latter has speed to burn.
Other players of note who are in the IMG factory right now are OG Cordy Glenn, who is a 1st round pick but someone to watch in a trade down scenario, and also NC State DE Markus Kuhn who the Panthers spent a lot of time running through drills at the North Carolina State Pro Day.
As time goes on I suggest keeping an eye out for more top prospects who filter through the IMG ranks. With Ken Dorsey on staff and a rapport with the team down in Bradenton I wouldn't be surprised if we end up with at least one player who worked there in the upcoming draft.