The last head coach to start Jimmy Garoppolo in a regular-season game has high hopes for the New England Patriots quarterback this season.
Dino Babers, who coached Garoppolo during his junior and senior seasons at Eastern Illinois, raved about the 24-year-old’s accuracy and quick release Tuesday during an interview with ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike.”
“You could see it after five passes. Jimmy Garoppolo was the William Tell, to me, of college football,” Babers said, as transcribed by CSNNE.com. “I’ve never seen a quarterback that could hit exactly what he was throwing at. And I’m not talking about putting it on a guy’s body. You put your hand out there, and he’s sticking the ball right in the middle of your palm.
“You take that accuracy and you put it with someone that has the second-fastest release I’ve ever seen — the only release I’ve ever seen faster was Dan Marino’s … second-fastest release I’ve ever seen — and you’ve got an outstanding quarterback.”
Now, Babers obviously is more than a little bit biased here, but he did watch Garoppolo tear through FCS defenses during the QB’s final two collegiate seasons. Garoppolo was especially productive as a senior in 2013, throwing for 5,050 yards with 53 touchdowns en route to earning the Walter Payton Award (the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy).
After playing only in garbage time during his first two NFL seasons, Garoppolo is expected to begin this season as New England’s No. 1 quarterback while usual starter Tom Brady serves his four-game Deflategate suspension.
“Don’t get me wrong, Tom Brady is the best of all the best,” said Babers, who now coaches at Syracuse. “And I’m not saying he’s going to take Tom’s job. I’m just telling you, this young man is exceptional. If Bill Belichick put a second-round draft pick on him, he knows what he’s doing.”
Garoppolo, Brady and rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett all practiced Monday, two days before the Patriots’ veterans were scheduled to report to Gillette Stadium for training camp.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images