When Vikings quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and their new quarterback Sam Darnold were teammates with the New York Jets in 2018, they were already watching Drake Maye, the North Carolina quarterback who is one of the NFL draft's top prospects this year.

McCown moved his family back to Charlotte in January 2018 and reignited a quarterback training group with his friend Scott Chadwick, then head coach at Myers Park High School.

Maye, a freshman from nearby Hough High School, arrived and forged connections that would lead him to transfer to Myers Park just six months later, with a chance to start varsity for Myers Park right away. He immediately led them to the state semifinal game.

During that 2018 season, McCown offered pointers from afar. He watched Maye's film and texted Chadwick. He also watched Maye's games live and texted Chadwick at halftime, including during playoff games.

"'Hey, look at this, do this, do that,'" Chadwick recalled. "I know Sam [Darnold] was sitting right there with him while they were watching the game."

In 2019, McCown helped oversee Maye's stellar junior season at Myers Park while attending every Monday practice and every game.

On Thursday, McCown and Maye are expected to be on the same field again.

Maye will throw at North Carolina's pro day in front of NFL evaluators that will include McCown and a Vikings contingent of coaches and scouts. The pro day, a scripted workout in which draft-eligible players run through drills, is the latest stop in a nationwide tour for Vikings brass as they search for their next quarterback.

McCown has already attended multiple pro days of top passers this month, including USC's Caleb Williams and Michigan's J.J. McCarthy. The Vikings are expected to meet with LSU's Jayden Daniels, whose pro day was Wednesday, and hold private workouts with prospects and pre-draft visits at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.

After hiring McCown last month, the Vikings have unique insight into Maye, a 6-foot-4 quarterback ideal for teams that want a big dude who can throw a mile and run another. Maye excelled under McCown's tutelage, a two-year run that peaked his junior year with 50 touchdowns and two interceptions. Their run was cut short in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

McCown left a strong impression on many at Myers Park, especially his quarterbacks.

"Always going the extra mile for anybody," said former Myers Park quarterback Denney Thompson. "He's playing in the NFL and he's running around with water bottles at practice making sure everybody has a water."

"Drake also has that mentality," Thompson added. "He just doesn't act too good for anybody, acts like anybody else. I think him being around McCown at practice every day like that kind of rubbed off on him and made him want to be that kind of leader and have that mentality, too."

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Maye, speaking March 1 at the NFL Scouting Combine, called transferring to Myers Park "one of the best decisions I made" in his budding football career.

"Playing there really changed my football path," he said. "Going in there my sophomore year and kind of being the guy at quarterback, and things started off from there. It started my journey."

Maye and McCown worked closely together through the 2019 season, during which Myers Park was mostly ranked No. 1 in the state. McCown arrived Mondays for the weekly install of the game plan before going back to Philadelphia, where he had signed after the Eagles were hit with a rash of injuries.

McCown had come out of retirement to join the Eagles. He wanted to balance both jobs.

"He was very adamant with them that he made this commitment to us," Chadwick said. "We were going to be really good. He didn't want to leave."

After Chadwick and Maye spoke on Wednesdays about the game plan, McCown offered advice over the phone from Philadelphia. McCown was back in Charlotte by game days. During games, he talked Maye through a stellar season in which the Myers Park averaged 50 points per game and went 12-1.

Myers Park's only loss, one game before the state semifinals, still stings.

"We should've got to state," Thompson said. "Coach McCown was about the only one that was able to deal with [the loss] because of his experience. He was making sure everyone had their heads up."

Four years later, Maye could be drafted as high as No. 2 overall. The dual-threat quarterback threw for 62 touchdowns and ran for 16 scores in his two seasons as North Carolina's starter.

The Vikings, who currently have the No. 11 overall selection, are equipped to move up in the draft after acquiring another first-round pick, No. 23 overall from the Texans, via trade this month.

McCown, the Panthers quarterbacks coach last season, is helping shape the Vikings' aggressive pursuit of the next franchise quarterback. He was officially hired the week of the NFL scouting combine, and was flown into Indianapolis to participate in formal and informal interviews with Maye and other draft prospects. Now he's on the pro day circuit.

"They got a steal in Minnesota," Panthers receiver Adam Thielen said. "Some guys are great players, but can't translate that to coaching. He has a very unique ability to translate what he learned playing and processing to transitioning and doing that as a coach."

If the Vikings were to go with Maye, they'll have new fans from Charlotte.

"I might start cheering for the Vikings now," Thompson said. "I love both of those guys."