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updated: 5/9/2014 11:16 PM

NFL Draft day 2: Patriots grab Garoppolo

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  • Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Garoppolo was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the draft Friday.

    Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Garoppolo was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the draft Friday.
    Associated Press

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

It was a perfect 10 for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo said last week at an assembly in his honor at Rolling Meadows High School that he was hoping for the opportunity to play for a high-caliber offense when he was picked in the NFL draft. And he hoped he could wear number 10 when he became a pro.

Garoppolo saw his wish become a reality when the New England Patriots selected the Arlington Heights native in the second round of draft with the 62nd pick overall. The Patriots do not have any player on their roster wearing number 10, a number usually reserved for quarterbacks.

"I am just ecstatic about it," Garoppolo said to ESPN's Adam Schefter immediately after being selected. "To be able to go and play for such a successful organization is a real opportunity, and I am looking forward to getting to work."

Work will mean becoming the backup to one the NFL's premiere quarterbacks in Tom Brady and playing for one of the game's top coaches in Bill Belichick. Garoppolo becomes the eighth quarterback selected by Belichik, and the highest one selected at that position.

"Just getting the opportunity to get picked this early and everything, it is a dream come true," Garoppolo said. "I am just excited about getting there.

"I am looking forward to get to meet (Brady). I have been looking up to him since I was a little kid and started playing quarterback."

Garoppolo, who has always wore the number 10, got his start at quarterback when he played at Rolling Meadows High School.

Then-varsity head coach Doug Millsapps saw Garoppolo, who was a running back on the freshman team, throw a few footballs around in practice. Millsaps immediately moved him to quarterback.

"I saw something in Jimmy," said Millsaps, who is now an assistant coach at Huntley. "He is a great kid and comes from a fantastic family."

Garoppolo was a two-year starter at Rolling Meadows and led his team the Mid-Suburban East title. He threw for 3,960 yards and 23 touchdowns while leading the Mustangs to the playoffs in both of his years.

"What a great scenario for him to head to the Patriots," said Millsaps, who was with coaches and former coaches from Rolling Meadows, watching the draft. "He told me that one of the most interesting visits he had was when he visited New England. They really spent a lot of time with him. Jimmy deserves everything he gets. He is an outstanding young man."

Garoppolo will compete with Ryan Mallet, who has been with the Patriots for the past three years, for the back-up spot to Brady. Garoppolo and the Patriots will host the Bears on Oct. 26.

Garoppolo was a four-year starter at Eastern Illinois, where he broke most of the records set there by current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. In his years at Eastern, Garoppolo threw for 13,156 yards and 118 touchdowns.

Eastern Illinois sports information director Rich Moser said Eastern Illinois is proud of what Garoppolo has meant to the school.

"Jimmy has been a great ambassador for not only Eastern Illinois Panther football, but for the university as a whole," Moser said. "He is an example of what individuals can accomplish with hard work and dedication."

Garoppolo was just one of 30 NFL prospects invited to New York for the draft. His parents Tony and Denise, along with brothers Tony, Mike and brother Billy, who is a senior at Rolling Meadows, accompanied Jimmy to Radio City Music Hall, where the draft was held.

Garoppolo became the highest drafted quarterback from the Chicago area since Donovan McNabb was selected with the second pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. Other drafted Chicago area quarterbacks in recent years are Jeff Francis (Prospect), Kenny Anderson (Batavia), and Kurt Kittner (Schaumburg). Mike Tomczak (TF North), Scott Tolzien (Fremd), Brett Basanez (St. Viator) and Matt Blanchard (Lake Zurich) were all free agents.

John Voyles, who is the activities director for Rolling Meadows High School, said he can't wait to see how the students at his school will react to Garoppolo's selection.

"It will great to see how many jerseys we see," said Voyles. "It really affirms what we tell our students, that they can do anything that they can imagine."

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