|Christopher Hanewinckel / USA TODAY Sports|
|Jimmy Garoppolo broke a passing record previously held by current Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo.|
Eastern Illinois senior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had his fourth 400-yard day of the season Saturday in leading the Panthers to a key Ohio Valley Conference win over Tennessee State.
Garoppolo (6 feet 3, 222 pounds) threw for 410 yards and four TDs in a game for first place in the OVC. Three different EIU receivers had 100 yards. It was his fifth game this season with at least four TD passes, and he now has thrown for 3,145 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The 35 TD passes leads all of NCAA football and is a single-season OVC record; the record had been 34, held by former EIU star Tony Romo.
The victory vaulted Eastern Illinois to No. 2 in the FCS polls; the Panthers' only loss this season is to unbeaten Northern Illinois.
Garoppolo is No. 40 on NFL Media draft analyst Gil Brandt's list of the top 100 seniors, and an Eastern Illinois athletic department spokesman told Brandt that all 32 teams have been on campus to see Garoppolo this season, including two general managers. It's probably a stretch to think Garoppolo will go in the first round -- he would be the first quarterback from a FCS school to go in the first round since Baltimore took Delaware's Joe Flacco 18th overall in 2008 -- but a second- or third-round selection looks possible.
Eastern Illinois' coach is Dino Babers, who was Baylor's wide receiver coach when Robert Griffin III was the Bears' quarterback. EIU runs an offense similar to Baylor's, and Babers has said he never has seen a quarterback with a quicker release than Garoppolo.
Garoppolo is a four-year starter for Eastern Illinois and earlier this season passed New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton to become the school's career leader in completions. He has 100 career TD passes, 15 more than Romo's previous school record.
Garoppolo was lightly recruited out of high school in the Chicago suburbs and signed with EIU over offers from Illinois State and Montana State; no FBS school offered a scholarship.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.