Welcome to the NFL, Justin "Hollywood" Herbert.
Eugene’s shy superstar is suddenly a national brand and headed for the bright lights of Los Angeles after being selected by the Chargers with the sixth pick in Thursday’s draft.
Before the virtual event, which shattered the draft’s previous television ratings record with 15.6 million viewers tuning in, Herbert announced that he had signed an endorsement deal with Bose.
Herbert, who was not on social media during his four-year run as Oregon’s starting quarterback, advertised his official NFL trading card on his new Twitter account (@Justin10Herbert) and answered fan questions Friday on his Instagram account during a chat sponsored by Chipotle.
When the NFL returns and the former Sheldon High standout gets some experience under his belt, Herbert will be cast as the leading man for the Chargers as the franchise looks to gain some traction in the crowded Los Angeles sports market.
"I wouldn’t say it’s pressure; I would say it’s an incredible opportunity," Herbert said. "It’s a chance to do something special. To be given this opportunity, I’m going to do everything I can to make the most of it. I want to be the guy that they want me to be and I want to be the guy that I want to be. I want to be the quarterback, friend and teammate that I need to be.
"There’s so much that I can improve upon, and I’m going to get better. I’m going to do everything I can to be the best quarterback that I can be."
looks good in powder blue pic.twitter.com/bOCf5qlkXu— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) April 24, 2020
San Diego general manager Tom Telesco attended Oregon’s 56-24 romp over USC in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the 28-27 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last season.
Herbert was 21-for-26 passing for 225 yards with three touchdowns and an interception against the Trojans. He finished his collegiate career as the most outstanding player of the Rose Bowl with three rushing touchdowns in the dramatic comeback win in Pasadena, Calif.
Selecting the 6-foot-6, 236-pound prospect was an easy call for the Chargers after LSU’s Joe Burrow went No. 1 to Cincinnati and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa went No. 5 to Miami.
"He brings us a lot," Telesco said. "I think the combination of his physical skills, his style of how he plays and his makeup — it’s just really intriguing to us. He’s a big, fast, dual-threat quarterback with plenty of room to grow.
"We really love his quarterback potential, his quarterback makeup, his leadership skills, his toughness, his mental toughness, being able to handle adversity."
Herbert’s bumpy career at Oregon is well documented. He was thrown into the fire as a true freshman during the brutal 2016 season under Mark Helfrich and suffered a fractured clavicle that derailed the 2017 season under Willie Taggart.
After deciding to return for his senior season instead of entering the 2019 draft, Herbert led the Ducks to a 12-2 finish and a Pac-12 championship.
Mario Cristobal and his staff drove by Herbert’s childhood home, where he participated in the draft with his family by his side, honking their car horns to congratulate the homegrown first-round pick social-distance style.
"It’s adversity," Herbert said of his Oregon experience. "When I first showed up we went 4-8 my freshman year, and got booed by our fans at home. It wasn’t the Oregon football I was used to. Going through these past few years, (we) went through three head coaches, three different offenses, a bunch of different strength coaches.
"We fought through and dealt with adversity. We ended up going 12-2 and winning the Rose Bowl. I was really pleased with the way we turned things around at Oregon."
Herbert will be the face of the Chargers in the years to come, but if all goes according to plan he will not be the NFL rookie of the year.
Head coach Anthony Lynn plans to start veteran Tyrod Taylor in 2020 after the organization parted ways with Philip Rivers (now with Indianapolis) after 16 seasons.
"They asked me how I felt about it and I said that I’m going to do everything I can to be the best quarterback I can be," Herbert said. "If I’m the guy, that’s great. I love playing football and I want to be the guy, but if I have to sit back and learn, I’m going to do everything I can to become the quarterback I need to be.
"I’m so excited to go down there and do everything I can. To continue to work hard and just be myself."
Contact reporter Ryan Thorburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-338-2330, and follow him on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn and Instagram @rg_ducksports. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.