Stephen Garcia verbally committed to South Carolina on Dec. 6, 2006. Almost immediately, his Rolodex grew considerably.
“I remember coach (David) Reaves and coach (Steve) Spurrier giving me everybody’s cellphone number and contact information,” Garcia said. “They said, ‘I need you to become our biggest recruiter. And I did.”
Garcia was part of the Gamecocks 2007 recruiting class, the highest-ranked class in school history. The class was ranked No. 4 in the nation by ESPN.com, and Garcia, the four-star quarterback from Tampa, Fla., was one of its key recruiters for the final two months.
His primary directive from the South Carolina coaching staff was to attract high-profile wide receivers to come play with him, and he was successful in that. The Gamecocks signed six wide receivers in that class, including five-star Chris Culliver, who was an offensive prospect but ended up playing defensive back in Columbia. There were two four stars in the group too – Dion LeCorn and Jason Barnes.
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In January of 2007, Garcia played with several of his future teammates, including Culliver, at the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“That was a lot of fun. We got to know each other some there,” Garcia said. “It was coach Spurrier’s biggest class that he had so it was fun to be a part of for sure.”
After his college career ended, Garcia returned to Tampa, where he still lives and is now a private, youth quarterbacks coach. He hasn’t given up on his own football career, either, although he admits he’s close. Garcia started the season on the roster of the Birmingham Iron of the new Alliance of American Football, but he’s not on the roster at the moment.
“I am just staying ready,” he said. “When I train guys, I’m out there kind of leading by example so I’m in good shape. I’m going to give the football gig one more year and probably hang up the cleats for good. I’ve got to start thinking about something else.”
Garcia is South Carolina’s third-leading career passer with 7,597 yards. He also won 20 games, third in school history, and threw for 47 touchdowns. His career ended after multiple suspensions when he was dismissed from the team.
“I mean, he had fun in college, no doubt, but once it got time to really hone in and focus, he was amongst the best in doing that,” said running back Brian Maddox, another member of the 2007 class. “He definitely could turn it on and off. And could definitely focus when need be. That’s what I loved about Stephen.”
Garcia’s recruiting for the Gamecocks didn’t end after he signed, he said.
“Every single time that we hosted recruits, I would always say, ‘When are you guys going to give me a recruit to host?’ They never did, but they were like, ‘Make sure they all come to your house for the party,’” Garcia said. “And I did.”