On April 9, 2016, the spring before his senior season at Ocean Township High School in Oakhurst, New Jersey, quarterback Kenny Pickett tweeted, “Honored to say that I have COMMITTED TO Temple University!!’’

Along with the tweet were a few pictures, including one with the three-star quarterback wearing a No. 2 Temple jersey standing next to then-Owls coach Matt Rhule, who now coaches the Carolina Panthers.

“I got to see practice. It was a little cold today -- it was snowing -- but the intensity was still there like it was 75 degrees and sunny,” Pickett told NJ.com that day. “So you can tell why they are successful. A lot of schools would have probably been inside indoors. And they were out in the snow, and they had more energy than I’ve ever seen on a 30 degrees snowy day for spring practice.’’

Pickett never made it to Temple. His profile grew during a stellar senior season and he received offers from larger, more established programs. One was the University of Pittsburgh, where he went on to became a top NFL prospect during his five years.

Now Pickett is at the Senior Bowl as arguably the top quarterback prospect in the NFL Draft, and Rhule is giving Pickett another hard look as the head coach of Carolina.

The Panthers met with Pickett in Mobile, Alabama, the site of Saturday’s Senior Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network), and plan to meet with him again before Day 1 of the draft on April 28, in which they have the No. 6 pick. While they also have a big need at left tackle, Pickett can’t be ruled out because Carolina needs a franchise quarterback, even if that means reaching.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has Pickett ranked No. 16 on his latest big board. Colleague Todd McShay also has Pickett 16th, just ahead of Ole Miss' Matt Corral.

Kiper has two left tackles -- Alabama’s Evan Neal (3) and North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu (5) -- ranked in his top five.

When it comes to which way the Panthers will lean in the draft, Rhule’s past relationship with Pickett could be the trump card. That the coach’s future at Carolina, where he is 10-21 in two seasons, could hinge on getting a franchise quarterback.

Pickett said he and Rhule still have a “great relationship.’’

“I trust him,’’ Pickett told reporters in Mobile. “Talking to all the players he coached prior to when I was thinking about committing, that's what they all talked about, what a great guy he is and how hard they played for him.’’