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Quarterback guru George Whitfield explains why he chases QBs with brooms

George Whitfield Jr. heard the criticism about Jameis Winston's pro day. He isn't mad, but he thinks you should know the method to his madness.

Even if you don't know who George Whitfield Jr. is, you probably recognize his pupils. Whitfield's first superstar client as a quarterback guru was Ben Roethlisberger in 2010. Since, Whitfield has gone on to tutor several current or prosective NFL quarterbacks, and notably helped the likes of Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel prepare for the draft.

Perhaps more well known are his methods. Whitfield was the man who chased after Manziel with a broom during his pro day last year. He is also put together Jameis Winston's gauntlet pro day routine this past Tuesday. Winston threw 102 passes while facing an onslaught of tennis rackets, bean bags and more brooms (sometimes two at once!), and mostly performed well. Many deemed the workout underwhelming, but not enough to knock him from his spot atop draft boards.

Many also panned Whitfield. Even as a purported "quarterback whisperer," Whitfield is still trying to win fans. His most vocal critic Tuesday was perhaps former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King, who said on Twitter that Whitfield "should be ashamed of himself" for Winston's workout. A sampling:

Whitfield saw King's comments, and was eager to set the record straight. First, he talked to King and had a "great conversation" -- "I said, 'If you want to take the shots take the shots. Even if you know the back story and you still want to take the shot, I'm cool with that. But just know what you're slamming.'"

Whitfield then spoke to SB Nation, and explained in depth how Winston's throwing program was put together, how he innovates training techniques, how he knows he's good at what he does, and why a guy with a broom is a reasonable approximation of 350-pound Vince Wilfork. Whitfield doesn't expect everyone to agree with him, but before they criticize they should take a look behind the curtain.

Whitfield v. King is a philosophical dispute

"He just said he's of a different mindset. Jameis isn't Cam Newton, he isn't trying to be Cam Newton -- and it wasn't about being Cam Newton. It was just showing you're as complete a player as possible, that's all. If I'm training someone and they don't think he can throw the long ball very well, guess what you're going to try and go in here and do in the workout? You're going to try and stress to them: 'Look: Here's one, here's another, here's another. Here's one on the run, a long ball. Here's one in the pocket. Here's one on the left sideline. Here's one where I'm going to really, really wait, pump one way and then throw a big rainbow down the other sideline. Still don't think I can throw a long ball? Cool, I've got five more long balls for you. Somebody stop me when they haven't seen a long ball that they don't think I can make.'

"The competitor in these guy, they're so Type A. They're all relentless. Manziel, Cam ... Luck? Luck is throwing into the wind, he comes out gunning. And then look at Jameis. He has some things he wanted to check off his list in regards to his game."

Winston wanted to throw 102 passes

"Pro days are a fingerprint and a statement for these guys. By far it's the most throws I've ever been a part of. The norm is right around 60-plus. [Baylor quarterback] Bryce [Petty] went 77 last week. But the statement they want to make is the statement they want to make. And for Jameis, he really felt he wasn't being credited for being such a good football athlete.

"[Winston said,] 'You know I may not be a great Olympian, and you can see it in the Combine, but I'm a great football player. And I'm going to show that.' I said, 'Cool, let's do it.' And he said 'this is what kind of threats I want, this is the chaos I want to pick on. I want to be pushed here, I want to be pushed there. I want to throw an over route with two changes of direction ... no, make that five changes.' I said 'Five?' 'Yeah, we can spread them out.'

"I said, 'You do realize, everything that you want, you're going to have to train your ass off to do to perform.'

"'Yeah, let's do it.'"

Winston refuses to rest

"You start out with, 'what is the prevailing negative?' Jameis and his movement. So we talked about that. 'And what do you think you did better than most of the kids in your class?' And then you run the score up on that. So you get the two pillars of the project, and you build around that. Hence all the movement, hence all the volume of throws. He said, 'Man, I'm special like that. I'm a heavyweight.'

"He loves Luck. Luck threw into the wind 60-plus throws. Mettenberger went 125. And so that's how it went. I know Shaun, and a lot of people, said 'Just play it safe. Kid is already going to go No. 1,' etc., etc. [Winston] doesn't know that. He has good feeling about it and everything but you don't know until you know.

"Regardless of that, he just wanted to be sincere with the process. Which is why I prepared him to attack the pro day. I could make this practice as hard as I want to. And that is his mantra, and their mantra -- 'Do it big.' People have seen that, they've heard that. And what is refreshing is what we saw last year, winning everything within the last 15 seconds of every ball game. He'd say 'I don't want the 35-throw, check off the list deal.' I think that's indicative of himself."

Winston isn't Luck, isn't Newton, isn't Manziel

"You ask them, 'What are you not credited with? And what do you think is the biggest misconception about your game. It's one or the other. And you start with that. 'What do you think they don't credit you with?'

"Sometimes it's not even a matter of credit. Say you played in the gun -- Manziel, all gun; Cam Newton, all gun -- that's not even negative, that's just an observation. Okay, perfect. We're put all your throw under center.

"Now you can answer that. Now what do you want to do? So the second part is, what do you think you're special with? Remind [scouts] why they came down here, and then run up the score on them. If I get you Logan Thomas and Cam? Run power. Johnny? How dynamic. You want to show how dynamic you run. Jameis? How well-rounded I am. So then you go off of that. Once you come in here and you can close the gap on the negative, then you try to run up the score on the positive. Then you build around that."

SB Nation presents: Winston tops our latest mock draft

Whitfield doesn't care that he's different

"Hey, this is unorthodox. For you to participate in the full Combine? Unorthodox. For you to throw 100-plus throws? Unorthodox. For you to stay home as the No. 1 pick in the draft? [Winston] said, 'Yeah, but I'm not trying to do that. This is just what I want to do. I want to compete fully, and I want to stay here with my family. Why are all those things headlines?' I said, 'It comes with the territory.' ...

"Once you get a chance to see it, and you don't really go off of what history tells you -- 'You're only supposed to make 60 throws, and you're only supposed to throw out of the pocket two times in a workout, and you really shouldn't get things thrown at you.' As soon as you step outside the lines you're going to hear some alarms go off. So you hear some alarms today? Don't worry about it."

Whitfield views himself an engineer

"Your No. 1 job is, can you improve him? Can you find out what's ailing him, or can you out where the deficiency is? Can you either improve it, or build it? It really kind of comes down to that. That's why I love the term 'engineer.' If it's not there, can you add it? And if it is there, can you give some sustainability, you know, just improve it? There is something to that. You got to build a connection and really -- you just have to put it there in the training, a culture into the training.

"It's different for different guys. For Cam it was like training a gladiator. Luck, it was like working with Mike Tyson, it was just such a direct, purposeful, hard, encouraging deal. Johnny and Jameis are bigger personalities, you got to kind of get a feel for the culture, tap into them, kind of meet them where they are and then continue to challenge them. Appeal to the competitors within them, and then just go be meticulous.

"The best you can, just trying to diagnose how quickly can you get them to change tune. That's all players want. That's all any of us want -- What's wrong? How fast can we fix it?"

Whitfield knows he's good because he keeps getting chances

"Sometimes it's about what can you build, I need to add this. And really with Jameis, it wasn't so much adding anything as refinement. Kind of refining some of the baseball mechanics back out of him. And so, I guess in short it goes back to -- How do you know you're good? To me the answer is to say 'keep getting another at-bat. If you didn't get a good at-bat you get another at-bat.' But really, the practical one is, are they able to make sustained change -- starting with Roethlisberger and some of the rest of the guys. If you can give them something, and they can keep those tools and kind of hone in on them, then it will give you an opportunity for another young guy to say 'hey, that might work for me.'"

Whitfield innovates by trial and error

"Every time we tend to pop up on air, it's really just pro days, things like that. But we train like that, we work like that. Both my parents are teachers -- my dad's a principle, my mom's a teacher. And immediately, the only thing they say that matters is the result. Did you get the result?

"Whatever resonates to the student, then that's all that really matters. And for us, the game is so diverse. There is no two ways to get a sack on the quarterback. It's probably an endless number. The left tackle collapses and somebody swim moves the center. The guard gets bowled over and somebody swim moves on the back side tackle. Both tackles collapse. Both A-gaps get shot. Somebody jumps over the pile. Since there's so much unknown, you don't want to do the same two drills, and have the same two formats, and have the same two rules. Like, that's never going to ever really work."

Those brooms simulate Vince Wilfork

"I think Philip Rivers is one of the best guys in the pocket in the league. Philip and Roethlisberger are two totally different animals, and to me have the same efficiency in the pocket. Philip just has great feet and great antennae to slide up, slide back, slide over. He can handle the annoyance of what's happening.

"If that's what the game plan is like, you have to relocate. So today, we wanted to relocate Jameis a couple times, so we used bean bags. Sometimes, it's going to be hard threats off the edge -- tackle swayed, didn't see the backside end, he comes in, boom, 'I can handle it.' Sometimes there's the flat bull rush, and we use those brooms, we call it like Vince Wilfork. You don't technically have to run out of there, but you can scoot and slide, you can't stay here. At 350 pounds he's not fast enough to catch me, but I do have to make an adjustment."

If you think it looks funny, blame Ben Roethlisberger

"So instead of the old classic stuff of 'pointing to the right, pointing to the left, now scoot up, now scoot back, okay throw the ball' -- that's just not the game. I kind of get it. Some of that stuff may not look whatever, but in training and in practice that's how we really, really have a chance to kind of grow these guys, putting them into some of these unknown, dynamic, high-heart rate situations.

"Then when they want to kind of showcase their ability, they want to keep that. Roethlisberger was the first person who told me to keep the broom in the pro day. That was not my intent. I thought, 'No way do we do that.'"