Jimmy Garoppolo was so stunned to learn his draft fate Friday night, he fumbled to find his voice.
Growing up in Arlington Heights, Ill., Garoppolo modeled his game growing up after New England Patriots three-time Super Bowl-winner Tom Brady.
Now the Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback from Eastern Illinois University will spend the next few years learning from his idol.
It also appears that backup Ryan Mallett is the first Patriots quarterback Garoppolo will be groomed to replace.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick selected Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick as a developmental hedge fund, with Mallett is entering his free-agent year. Garoppolo’s arrival could make Mallett an expendable trade commodity come training camp.
Brady, meanwhile, turns 37 on Aug. 3 and has said he intends to play until he’s 40.
“It was unbelievable,” Garoppolo said. “I was speechless for a second. I’m not going to lie to you.
“It’s a very awesome scenario to go into.”
The self-described blue-collar kid is the perfect fit for the blue-collar Brady-Belichick Patriots.
“I started playing quarterback my junior year of high school,” Garoppolo said.
“It was when Tom was just getting started. His poise in the pocket and the way he takes control of the entire offense is something I’ve always tried to emulate.”
So what would it feel like to one day be the next starting quarterback for the Patriots?
“I would love the opportunity,” Garoppolo said. “That’s why we all play the game. You want to be a player, you want to be out there to play.
“I have the mindset like I’m going to prepare like I’m the starter.”
But he made it clear he’s content to be the backup and soak everything up from a master.
“I’m going to go in there and you have to make yourself better first,” he said. “By making yourself better, that’s how you make your team better.
“That’s what I’m going in there to do.”
Garoppolo was 10 when he watched Brady lead the Patriots to a dramatic Super Bowl XXXVI upset of the St. Louis Rams.
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SOURCE: USA Today