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Question: For most of the 20th Century, with famed football-playing alums like Red Grange, George Halas, Jim Grabowski, Ray Nitschke and Dick Butkus, the University of Illinois was the state’s gold standard for football talent. But the U of I in recent years has been supplanted by what other state university?

Answer: Eastern Illinois University. It has become a phenomenal school for producing exemplary NFL quarterbacks. Now retired NFL coaching icon, Mike Shanahan, began at EIU as a QB in the 1970s. In 1980s, today’s New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton was a QB at EIU. In 2002, Tony Romo, the ex-Dallas Cowboys star and now NFL TV announcer, became an all-American at EIU. And most recently, San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo, leading a team this year that many believe could be Super Bowl-bound, was in 2013 EIU’s QB instead.

This article originally ran on pantagraph.com.

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