Almost 20 youth football players gathered Friday morning at a South Florida park to learn from Stephen Garcia how to be a collegiate quarterback. The idea of Garcia as sage mentor would have made even Garcia laugh not many years ago.
One of the most important lessons Garcia tries to impart is “try not to be so hard-headed like I was in college. Be able to take coaching,” he said.
Garcia played at South Carolina from 2008-2011, leaving as the third-leading passer in school history and helping to jumpstart the glory years of Gamecocks football, but he battled with head coach Steve Spurrier all along the way. Now, he’s trying to save his young pupils the same fate.
“I put them through the ringer. It’s a no B.S. kind of deal,” he said. “I hear myself talk like Coach Spurrier a lot, and it takes me back a little bit. I just wish I had known then what I know now. It’s tough, but I’m just trying to get these guys as prepared as possible for the next level.”
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Garcia has made private quarterback coaching his career since leaving South Carolina and returning to his hometown of Tampa, where he starred at Jefferson High School. The work is part vocation and part therapy, Garcia said.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if he sought some sort of redemption from his work. “It’s definitely a fun deal. I definitely enjoy working with these guys. They are a bunch of great kids. It’s easy to work with them. I definitely want to pass along the information and the stuff that is required to get to that next level.”