ESPN college football reporter and host, Molly McGrath, has had a front row seat to Justin Herbert's career at Oregon. She even attended his pro day, which happened to be one of the final pro days in college football due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now that Herbert was drafted to the Chargers, McGrath joined Hayley Elwood on Playmakers to discuss what he accomplished in college, how he grew into the QB he is today, how he took Oregon's program from 4-8 as a freshman to 12-2 as a senior, and more.
On Herbert Joining the Chargers
"When I look at all the people the Chargers drafted from Justin Herbert to Kenneth Murray, to KJ Hill and Joe Reed, the main thing that I saw was, they got a lot of really great leaders and high-character players. Which I think is great for the franchise moving forward. Justin Herbert is definitely one of those guys. He is extremely intelligent, extremely cerebral with a 4.1 GPA. He won the William V. Campbell Trophy which is the academic Heisman. He told me that's one of the proudest moments he's been able to have. He is extremely intelligent, and in the past, maybe some of that overthinking hurt him…. But I was able to watch him progress and grow into a really confident leader…. We saw in the Pac-12 Championship Game against Utah, he had a different swagger about him, a, 'well, we have nothing to lose,' type attitude. He completely took over that game. You saw that confidence from him. And then in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, he took it to another level."
On Herbert Evolving Throughout Time at Oregon
"I think he became more comfortable with himself as a leader. We saw that with his teammates as he was able to progress in his career with Oregon, but we also saw that transfer to the Senior Bowl. (A game) where he was with a bunch of players he hadn't played with, hadn't spent a lot of time with and notably, a lot of people said he was the leader of the weekend. So the fact that he was able to do that, speaks volumes about his growth as a person. I mean, you and I aren't the same people we were when we were 18. He's had that journey and I think the fact that he's been so honest about who he is, it's really, really refreshing. He's a high-character guy, and I have no doubt he has the kind of personality where he can lead an NFL team full of men and a lot of people who are older than him. He'll earn the respect of his teammates with how hard he works (and) how intelligent he is."
On How His Study Habits Will Help Him in the NFL
"Especially now, this is a weird, unprecedented time where rookies aren't able to go be with NFL teams. I talked with some scouts, and they were most concerned with young players going in with a franchise and (how) they're not able to spend time with the coaches or coordinators. He can't spend that extra time with his receivers throwing balls and learning where they want the ball and the tendencies of those guys. So I think the fact that he is very cerebral (is good.) He's the type of guy who's going to study his butt off and he's going to be watching film. It's like he's studying for a test, that's how he approaches football. I have no doubt he's going to take this very seriously, especially in this time of quarantine and isolation."
On Going From 4-8 as a Freshman to 12-2 as a Senior
Take a look through some photos of the Chargers 2020 first-round Draft pick Justin Herbert during his distinguished career at Oregon.
"He's the kind of guy who said, 'Yeah, this is what I planned for. This is why I wanted to spend this extra time at Oregon.' Why he stayed was because he wanted to accomplish something like that. You don't have franchise quarterbacks in college football, but he essentially was their franchise guy after Marcus Mariota left. That shows that he can take the weight of a program and he can help move it forward and have the patience to work really hard towards a goal."