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Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo picked for Senior Bowl

Stephen Haas/Associated Press
Jimmy Garoppolo has been added as the sixth quarterback for the Senior Bowl.

Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, named the FCS player of the year after throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013, has been selected to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl.

He is the sixth and final quarterback for the game and will join Fresno State's Derek Carr and San Jose State's David Fales on the South team.

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron declined his Senior Bowl invitation, opening the door for Garoppolo, who looks right now to be a mid-round selection. Garoppolo will play in the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, NFL Network).

This past fall, Garoppolo (6-foot-3, 222 pounds) broke single-season school records held by Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo. In addition, he broke New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton's school record for career completions.

Competition level always is a concern for lower-division players, and the week in Mobile, Ala., will give Garoppolo an opportunity to impress scouts when going against better players. In two games this season against FBS teams that went to bowls (Northern Illinois and San Diego State), Garoppolo was 65 of 95 (68.4 percent) for 811 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

Garoppolo's performance against San Diego State led to this proclamation from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who watched tape of the EIU-San Diego State game before his team faced the Aztecs early in the season: "Eastern has really one of the best quarterbacks I've ever seen. I didn't even know who he was until I watched him. He's a great player."

Eastern Illinois' coach in 2013 was Dino Babers, who since has been hired at Bowling Green. Babers was Baylor's wide receiver coach when Robert Griffin III was the Bears' quarterback, and Babers said this season he never has seen a quarterback with a quicker release than Garoppolo.

NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks, on hand for East-West Shrine Game practices this week, wrote Thursday that Garoppolo's performance in workouts is helping his draft prospects.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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