Eastern Illinois senior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has drawn the attention of NFL scouts this fall, and his exploits also are drawing the attention of some high-profile EIU alums.
Garoppolo (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) has thrown for 3,145 yards and 35 touchdowns this season. 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.
Two weeks ago, before EIU's homecoming game against Southeast Missouri State, Romo sent a short video to the team, congratulating Garoppolo and wishing the team well. The video was played during the game. Garoppolo has 100 career TD passes, 15 more than Romo's previous school record.
This week, a video from New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton -- also an EIU alum -- will be played during the Panthers' Ohio Valley Conference game against Tennessee Tech. Earlier this season, Garoppolo passed Payton to become the school's career leader in completions.
Garoppolo is No. 40 on NFL Media draft analyst Gil Brandt's list of the top 100 seniors, and Brandt was told that all 32 teams have been on campus to see Garoppolo this season.
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.
Eastern Illinois is ranked second in this week's FCS polls. That's the school's highest ranking since 2002 -- Romo's senior season.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.