He said of the event, "It was such an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame here, and with the jersey ceremony, it holds a special place in your heart." Romo attended the 2003 NFL Combine.Despite intriguing some scouts, he went undrafted by any NFL team during the 2003 NFL Draft.17 jersey and inducted him into EIU's Hall of Fame.Romo is the first Eastern Illinois player to have his number retired.In 2004, the Cowboys released Hutchinson and signed veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde and traded a third round draft pick to the Houston Texans for quarterback Drew Henson.Romo faced being cut from the roster until Carter was released following allegations of substance abuse.
After the season, he was honored as an All-America honorable mention, an All-Ohio Valley Conference member, and the OVC Player of the Year.
As a junior, he led Division I-AA in passing efficiency, completing 138-of-207 passes for 2,068 yards and 21 touchdowns.
On December 19, 2002, Romo became the first player in Eastern Illinois and Ohio Valley Conference history to win the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the top Division I-AA football player.
One of Romo's early career highlights was in 2004, when (as the third-string quarterback) he rushed for the winning touchdown with six seconds left in a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.
Elevated to the Cowboys' second quarterback in 2005, Romo had strong showings in the 20 pre-seasons.