Garcia will take part in USC's pro day

jkendall@thestate.comMarch 26, 2012 

University of South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia gains yardage against the University of Georgia in the third quarter at Sanford Stadium in Athens, G.A. Athens, G.A. 09-10-2011. C. Aluka Berry - The State Media Company

C. ALUKA BERRY/CABERRY@THESTATE. — The State

The Stephen Garcia Show will return to Columbia for a one-day run Wednesday.

Garcia, who survived five suspensions to start 34 games for South Carolina, will be one of 16 former Gamecocks participating in the school’s pro day at Williams-Brice Stadium. The players will be measured and weighed, run the 40-yard dash and participate in drills for NFL teams in search of talent for next month’s draft.

Garcia arrived in Columbia on Monday but plans to keep a low profile until Wednesday, his father said.

“He just wants to get in and get his job done,” Gary Garcia said. “The past is behind him, and he wants to move forward.”

Gary Garcia declined to let his son speak to The State on the advice of Stephen Garcia’s agent, Chris Martin.

“I am trying to hold him off on doing any (interviews) until after he works out,” Martin said. “He’s very focused and dialed in right now. I want to keep him dialed in.”

Martin believes Garcia’s off-field issues are behind him, he said.

“Whatever is in the past is in the rearview mirror,” Martin said. “He has owned it. He hasn’t tried to sidestep anything. He spends a lot of time with his girlfriend and his son Memphys. I think that has helped him realize what is important.”

Garcia’s repeated transgressions combined with a deep class of quarterbacks eligible for this year’s draft means it’s unlikely Garcia will be drafted, said National Football Post draft analyst Wes Bunting. However, Garcia could end up with a free agent deal, particularly if he has a good day Wednesday, Bunting said.

“Honestly, when I watched him on junior tape, I was kind of shocked with how talented he was,” Bunting said. “You see the inconsistency on television, but he is a really talented kid who can move around. He can make all the throws. From a talent standpoint, absolutely this guy can play in the NFL. Does he make some bad decisions? Absolutely.”

Garcia was dismissed from the team after five games this season for failing a substance test after he had been given a zero-tolerance warning from the athletics department. Coach Steve Spurrier suspended Garcia five times during his career, although he never missed any game time due to the discipline.

He lost his job as a senior before his dismissal but left school as USC’s third-leading passer with 7,597 yards.

Garcia has had “very positive” feedback from NFL teams, Martin said, but he declined to name teams. Garcia will compete in an NFL regional combine on Friday in Detroit, Martin said.

“This will be a great week for him. He can make some money,” said Martin, who believes a team might draft Garcia in the sixth or seventh round.

Former NFL head coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards agrees with Bunting, saying Garcia has enough talent to play professional football but enough questions about his decision-making to make a draft selection unlikely.

“This guy is pretty good,” Edwards said. “He’s athletic, he can throw it, he can move around and make some plays, he can make the unscripted play — and in our league, you are looking for that kind of guy.”

Garcia’s off-field trouble will hurt him, “but … in our league, it’s business,” Edwards said. “He has a red flag. Maybe that’s good for him. Maybe he will figure it out, and I hope he does because you hate to see kids with talent waste it.”

This year’s class of “third-tier” quarterbacks is strong, Bunting said, another reason Garcia likely is headed for a free agent contract.

“The off-field stuff and the number for times it happened, I think that keeps him off the draft board,” Bunting said. “But, if you need a developmental guy that, if it doesn’t work out you can always cut him with no problem, why not?”

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