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Jimmy Garoppolo on his idol Tom Brady: ‘It’s crazy being able to go to Boston and learn from Tom’

05.09.14 at 11:03 pm ET
By
Jimmy Garoppolo. (AP)

Jimmy Garoppolo will join Tom Brady on the Patriots. (AP)

FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo has never met Tom Brady, but he can’t wait to meet the man he models his game after. Like an excited young fan talking about his favorite player growing up, the Eastern Illinois quarterback selected by the Patriots with the 62nd pick told reporters late Friday night that there’s a reason for his Brady worship.

“He was always the guy I emulated my game after,” Garoppolo said. “It’€™s crazy being able to go to Boston and learn from Tom, learn from Coach [Bill] Belichick and all the coaches and all the players. It’€™s a great opportunity for a guy like me, a young player. I still have a lot to learn and I know that and I’€™m excited about it.”

Garoppolo, who broke the all-time passing marks of Tony Romo at Eastern Illinois, said there are specific aspects of Brady’s game that he is looking to incorporate in the NFL.

“His poise in the pocket is so impressive,” Garoppolo said. “He really does a great job of taking control of the offense. He never really loses his cool. He’€™s always cool, calm and collected in the pocket and that’€™s what I try to do.”

With Brady under contract until 2017, how does he feel about coming into a situation where he might not play a snap for four years?

“I feel good about it,” he said. “It’€™s one of those things. Whether I was coming in as the starter or as the backup, I’€™m going to go in and approach it the same way. My mindset is the same as it would be if I was going in as the starter. I’€™m going to go out there and try to get better each and every day. That’€™s what good football players do.

“Just from being drafted overall I had to catch my breath. That experience was a once in a lifetime experience. It was unbelievable. But going to Boston, I’€™m going to get an opportunity to learn from one of the best and also all the good coaches they have out there. They have an unbelievable coaching staff. There’€™s a lot for me to learn between now and the beginning of the season and I’€™m excited about it.”

What likely made Garoppolo so attractive to Belichick goes well beyond his worship of Brady’s skills. It’s his work ethic and his reputation as a hard worker and quick learner at Eastern Illinois, traits that will be required as he looks to assimilate into the Patriot Way.

“I’€™m going to go in there and try to get better each and every day, do whatever I can to get better and pick up as much information as I can,” he said. “Become a student and learn everything I can about the game and just go from there and we’€™ll see what happens.”

Ironically, it was of New England’s greatest defensive players — Willie McGinest — who made the pick Friday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

“We got off the stage and he told me the Patriots are a hard working organization,” Garoppolo said. “He told me to get to work and everything ‘€“ if you know what to do, do your job, then you’€™ll be all right in New England. That’€™s what I’€™ve always done and that’€™s what I’€™m going to continue to do.”

Here is the rest of Friday’s conference call with Garoppolo from Friday night:

Q: What did Bill Belichick say to you when he called?

JG: he just told me that they were going to draft me. I got real excited. It was an unbelievable moment.

His initial reaction to being taken in the second round Friday night?

“Initially I was at a loss for words really, just excited to get out there,” he said. “The opportunity to play for such a successful organization, I couldn’€™t have pictured it any better.

“I would have been surprised by whoever picked me, to be honest. The excitement of it, it’€™s the draft, you don’€™t know which way any team is going to go. It’€™s a shock and excitement no matter who picks you. Other than that, just the opportunity to play for a successful organization is awesome.

Q: What was the visit like when you came up to Foxborough?

JG: It was awesome. It was good. I got to meet everyone, all the player personnel people, the coaches. I just got to talk some football.

Q: Have you met Tom Brady?

JG: Not yet, looking forward to it though when I get up there and to Boston. My first time up there was a visit and I’€™m looking forward to getting back there.

Q: How much did you talk with Josh McDaniels?

JG: We had a good conversation. We got to talk some football and everything when I went on my visit and got to know each other.

Q: What were some of your preconceived notions about the Patriots before you were drafted?

JG: I really didn’€™t have any. I knew they were a very successful organization and it would be an honor to play for them. I have the chance now and I’€™m excited about it.

Q: Did you expect to be drafted so high?

JG: Yeah. The draft, it’€™s crazy. You never know where you’€™re going to go. But it worked out pretty well. To go in the second round is a real honor.

Q: What do you think the adjustment will be like going from Eastern Illinois to the NFL?

JG: There’€™s going to be a learning curve but I know that going into it. I’€™m excited about it. It’€™s a great opportunity to grow as a quarterback and as a football player. That’€™s what I’€™m going there to do.

Q: I assume you’€™ve talked to Tony Romo. What has he told you about the NFL?

JG: We talked after we won our conference championship this past season. He was just wishing us the best in the playoffs and everything. We really didn’€™t get talking about the NFL because I was so focused on the college season. Hopefully I’€™ll get a chance to talk to him in the future.

Q: How much did your game evolved since the end of your college career, going through the process of practicing for and playing in All-Star games?

JG: Oh, it’€™s improved tremendously, especially the knowledge of the game. Going on all those visits, learning from coaches, learning from all the quarterback coaches I worked with. It was as long offseason and a different offseason than what I was used to, but it was a very good learning experience is the best way to put it.

Q: How confident are you? Obviously the Patriots wouldn’€™t have drafted you to come into this kind of situation unless you could handle it maturity wise and physically. How would you characterize those parts of your personality?

JG: It fits me very well. They’€™re a very blue collar organization. It seemed like all business and they get to work. That’€™s what I’€™m excited about. I’€™m one of those guys; I’€™m a blue collar guy and I go to work every day. That’€™s what I’€™m most excited about and it fits my personality very well, so I think it’€™s a very good fit.

Q: If you had to critique yourself, what do you have to improve most before you come in here and once you’€™re here?

JG: Just the knowledge of the game. There’€™s a huge learning curve between the college and the NFL game and I think just getting into the NFL system, being on an NFL team and learning from the veterans, I’€™ll be ok with that. Just learn from the guys that have been there done that and we’€™ll just take it day by day.

Q: What would you say is your greatest strength right now?

JG: My greatest strength is my work ethic, I would say. I’€™m a guy who goes to work every day and I’€™m going to put in the time, put in the hours that are needed and more. I think that’€™s something that I bring to the table.

Q: Have you ever been to the Boston area outside your visit to the Patriots?

JG: No I haven’€™t actually, so I’€™m looking forward to the new experience. It’€™s going to be fun.

Q: Are you familiar with anyone on the team?

JG: Just the names of players, but that’€™s about it.

Q: They said on TV that you have small hands and you have problems with ball security. What would you say to that?

JG: You know, they can say what they want. Never, in my opinion, I don’€™t think I’€™ve ever had trouble with ball security. I personally like throwing the NFL ball better than the college ball, but you know, everyone has their opinions. It is what it is.

Q: Your delivery isn’€™t classic over the top ‘€“ it’€™s a little bit 3/4. Has anybody bothered you about that and asked you to change it?

JG: No not really. Delivery is something that each quarterback is different with. If the coaches in New England think I need to fix it, I’€™ll do whatever I need to do to adjust to their offense and make it work.

Q: Do you have any recollections form your teenage years and what you might remember about Aaron Rodgers getting drafted by the Packers and sitting for three, four years before he got a chance to play? What do you remember about that as a fan of the game?

JG: Yeah, I remember when that happened, him sitting in the draft room and everything ‘€“ he waited a little while. It’€™s a very similar scenario and it worked out very well for Aaron, so hopefully it will work out the same way for me.

Read More: 2014 NFL Draft, Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
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