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Bomber Report

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Danny Mac quarterbacks talent hunt

Posted: 04/4/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Danny McManus was on hand for all 12 free agent camps the Bombers held.

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Danny McManus was on hand for all 12 free agent camps the Bombers held.

He's best known for an epic 17-year Hall of Fame career in the CFL during which he won Grey Cups with three different teams and routinely brought tens of thousands of fans to their feet with his uncanny ability to thread the needle to a receiver in full gallop 50 yards downfield.

And these days? Well, let's just say life is a bit more mundane for Danny McManus in his new job as assistant general manager and director of U.S. scouting for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"I'm just a glorified truck driver really," McManus said with a laugh this week during a phone interview from his home in Sarasota, Fla.

"That's all I do now -- if I'm not on the road, I'm on the phone. And if I'm not on the phone, I'm on the road. Although we're allowed to use our cellphones on the highway down here, so I can be on the road and on the phone at the same time sometimes -- just can't text.

"So yeah, that's basically the job -- it's a lot of phone calls, a lot of watching film, a lot of working guys out."

While that might sound mundane, McManus's boss, Bombers GM Kyle Walters, insists his new director of U.S. scouting -- who was hired away this winter from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where McManus held a similar position -- is a linchpin to the new and vastly expanded scouting operation Walters is implementing for the Bombers this winter.

"Danny's the kind of guy that just everyone is comfortable around," said Walters. "He has so many contacts in the States -- he knows all the agents, he knows all the coaches, very good relationship with everybody. He can ensure that the top guys come out because he's a trustworthy guy. And he's a talent evaluator.

"So it's those two points -- he's built up enough relationships with who he is and name recognition that he can go into these cities and be instantly recognizable and give us credibility. And he's a hell of a talent evaluator. I lean on him immensely."

McManus has been present for every one of the 12 free agent camps the Bombers held across the U.S. this winter and we'll all soon get an up-close look at the fruits of his labours when the Bombers hold their mini-training camp in Bradenton, Fla., April 13-15.

The southern locale of this year's mini-camp is a change from previous years when the Bombers held it indoors in Winnipeg. But that's not the only change -- the Bombers are also only inviting rookies (and quarterbacks) to this year's camp, unlike previous years when the camp would be a mishmash of some rookies and some veterans.

"In previous years, there'd be like one veteran defensive lineman and three veteran offensive linemen, just a mix of everyone," said Walters. "And I looked at it and thought we're kind of doing a half-assed job... "

So instead, all the veterans will stay home this year to allow the Bombers coaching staff to use the three-day camp to exclusively evaluate all their rookie prospects and determine who they will bring to main training camp later this spring.

McManus is excited to finally see what all his work this winter looks like on one field.

"It's the thrill of the chase," said McManus. "We've put together a squad for the coaches and now it's their turn to do their work and get these guys ready.

"Our job was to put together as much talent as we can. Now it's up to the coaches to weed through them and figure out what guys they can use and what guys they can't use."

And wouldn't that be a welcome a change this year -- a Bombers team with too much talent, instead of not enough.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2014 C4

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