By Michael Hirtzer
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Quarterback Jared Goff was less than a year old when the National Football League Rams left Los Angeles in 1995.
Now the California native and No. 1 pick in Thursday's NFL Draft will be a face of the franchise when it returns to Los Angeles, after 21 seasons in St. Louis.
Goff, who set Pac-12 conference records for passing yards and touchdowns at the University of California, Berkeley, will join running back Todd Gurley in an attempt to turn around a Rams team that has not had a winning record in any season since 2003.
“Just truly a dream come true,” Goff said. “I’m taking it as an honor and I’m going to have to prove them right, that they made the right decision.”
The Rams traded up to take Goff, dealing numerous later-round picks to the Tennessee Titans earlier this month to acquire the first overall selection.
“If you’re a first-round quarterback, there’s going to be pressure regardless,” he said. “I’m very excited, very ready to go, ready for the challenge.”
The lanky 21-year-old is known as a cool presence in the pocket.
The first true freshman to start a game at Berkeley, Goff said his biggest adjustment will be the speed of the pro game. The Rams said earlier this year that Case Keenum would be the Rams starter going into training camp.
“I’ll come, work hard, see what happens. Hopefully I can play early,” Goff said.
The draft, held at Chicago’s Roosevelt University for the second year in a row, took a decidedly California turn after Goff was selected and he took to the stage to the music of the rapper 2Pac’s song “California Love.”
Jared’s father, Jerry Goff, was a former Major League Baseball player who also made sports memories in Chicago, hitting his first home run for the Montreal Expos in 1990 at Wrigley Field.
Jared Goff had spoken with many teams, including the Cleveland Browns, about being a potential pick.
“When the Rams traded up, I had a good feeling about it,” he said. “It’s been an unbelievable experience, and something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer; Editing by Larry Fine and Andrew Both)