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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Is the next Tony Romo at the Senior Bowl?

By Calvin Watkins

MOBILE, Ala. -- He doesn't look like Tony Romo, but Jimmy Garoppolo attended the same school, Eastern Illinois, is playing the same position and getting compared to the Cowboys' quarterback.

Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo finished with over 5,000 passing yards and 53 TDs at Eastern Illinois in 2013.
"It's expected really," said Garoppolo, who spoke to several teams in the last two weeks including the Cowboys about his NFL prospects. "At first, 'Oh, this is pretty cool. Now I expect it. But it's fun, a great comparison, he's a very successful quarterback. That’s what I'm trying to be. It's nice to have that comparison."

Romo was a record-setting quarterback at Eastern Illinois and Garoppolo became one as well. He set a single-game school record with seven touchdown passes in 2013 and became the school leader in career pass completions.

Garoppolo won the 2013 Walter Payton Award after throwing for 5,050 yards with 53 touchdowns. He also picked up 11 300-yard games.

Garoppolo joked that he surpassed all the records set not only by Romo but former Eastern Illinois quarterback and current New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton as ell.

"It's very motivating, he came from a small school, Sean Payton had a great career at Eastern too," Garoppolo said. "So, I mean the quarterback tradition is very well known and I'm just trying to keep it going and take it to the next level."

Garoppolo doesn't know Romo or Payton, yet hopes to meet up with them soon. In the last two weeks, Garoppolo has improved his stock among NFL teams. He earned the Offensive MVP Award in last week's East-West Shrine game by completing 9-of-14 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown while playing mainly the second quarter.

It was that performance that got the Senior Bowl committee to notice him. After Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron backed out of the game, Garoppolo was selected to replace him.

"You gonna see a hard working passionate quarterback who goes out there and gives it my all and be a true competitor," Garoppolo said. "And [I'm] going to go out there and compete like I always do, whether its 100,000 people in the stands or 10 people in the stands. That’s what they’re gong to get week in and week out."