The Buccaneers continue their three day, Josh-Freeman-led minicamp in Bradenton, Florida today at the IMG academy. Now, if you’re like most Bucs fans you have little to no idea what exactly IMG is or what it does aside from train athletes. So with that in mind, here’s a quick briefer on what IMG does, and how it got its start.
IMG is a 30 year old endeavor that now encompasses several sports and a very impressive campus in Bradenton. It started out as a tennis academy in 1979 under the auspices of Nick Bollettieri, the man who helped train Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and the Williams Sisters. In 1987, the facility was bought by IMG (International Management Group) in order to be expanded to other sports, though Bolletieri stayed on to help with the tennis side of things and oversee other new areas of growth.
Today the campus is massive and helps train athletes in everything from tennis and golf to basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer and of course football. IMG has its own staff of coaches directed by former Florida State Seminole and Heisman trophy winner, Chris Weinke and including coaches like John Robinson (formerly of USC and the LA Rams) as well as a slew of other former NFL players and coaches such as Ricky Proehl and Dan Morgan. So far just this year, the Madden Football academy at IMG has worked with Christian Ponder and his Vikings teammates as well as Cam Newton during his pre-draft work.
The Bucs will be using the facilities at the Madden Football Academy, two full-size fields, a turf field for position work and facilities for quarterback work. The team will also use the academic facilities for meetings and film work. Frankly, this is a very good fit for the Bucs given its location and the fact the Bucs can easily get quality NFL-level work in under an experienced group of “coaches.” Come next year, when there is no lockout and the off-season moves on as scheduled, I still wouldn’t mind seeing the Bucs organize an unofficial minicamp or two back IMG again. That’s a great resource to have in your back yard.