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Years before he led the Patriots to nine Super Bowl appearances and six Vince Lombardi trophies, and the Buccaneers to the franchise’s second Super Bowl win, Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. (aka Tom Brady) was an ardent fan of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.

Throwback Thursday: Athletes and sports teams back in the day

This #ThrowbackThursday we look at Brady’s path from being a mostly-overlooked Bay Area high school QB to arguably surpassing his childhood idol as the best thrower in NFL history.


With the help of his high school football coaches, Brady was transformed from a “chubby, slow-footed sophomore” into the starting varsity quarterback at San Mateo’s Junípero Serra High School his junior and senior years.

Tom Brady wearing Serra Padres letterman jacket

Brady wasn’t heavily recruited until he sent highlight films to targeted schools and started to draw interest from a number of top-flight Division I schools. He narrowed his list to five schools — Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Michigan, and Illinois — before opting to head to Ann Arbor and play for the Wolverines.


Brady’s inglorious first action at Michigan was an interception that led to UCLA’s only score in a blowout win for the Wolverines. As a starter his last two years, he posted a 20-5 record with wins over Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl and Alabama in the Orange Bowl.

Poster of Michigan Wolverines QB Tom Brady

Brady finished his college career ranking third in Michigan history with 710 attempts and 442 completions, fourth with 5,351 yards and 62.3 completion percentage, and fifth with 35 touchdown passes. Despite his success in Ann Arbor, Brady was not viewed as a top pro prospect and was selected by the New England Patriots with the 199th overall pick in the sixth round of 2000 NFL Draft. The rest, as they say, is history