Stephen Garcia: Playing at USC was 'high pressure at all times'

jkendall@thestate.comOctober 24, 2013 

South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia (5) scores touchdown on a run in the third quarter during the Gamecocks game against East Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, Saturday, September 3, 2011.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia recalls his time with the Gamecocks as “very difficult because (head coach Steve Spurrier) is very tough to play for,” Garcia said this week in a wide-ranging podcast interview with OutkickTheCoverage.com.

“It was a tough gig, and I didn’t handle it very well,” Garcia said. “It was very high pressure at all times, and I didn’t help myself by getting in trouble as soon as I set foot on campus.”

Garcia mostly shouldered the blame for his rocky tenure at the school, during which he threw for 7,597 yards, third-most in school history.

“I was (darn) immature back then and hard-headed,” he said. “I wish I could take back some of the things I did up there. I think my life would be a little bit different than it is right now if I could.”

Garcia touched on many subjects during the 42-minute conversation, including the events that led to some of his five suspensions, former teammate Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks’ win over then-No. 1 Alabama and even Jadeveon Clowney.

He also addressed his dismissal from the team, which he again said was due to failing an alcohol test during a probationary period.

Former South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman “says you failed your alcohol test so you are dismissed from the team. It was pretty tough to deal with. My immediate thought was, ‘Now what?’ No NFL team is going to take a shot on me because of all the past indiscretions.”

About his suspension from his final spring practice for a violation of team rules at the previous season’s bowl game, Garcia said he and a teammate had girls in their room past curfew on the first night of the team’s stay in Atlanta.

“The whole (rumor) about being drunk and it being the night before the game … that was completely inaccurate,” he said.

Garcia told the website he is training in an effort to take one more shot at a professional football career after being kicked off the South Carolina team in 2011 and then making a brief appearance on the roster of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.

“I’m getting the itch back,” he said.

If that doesn’t work out, “the military is not out of the question,” he said.

Garcia recapped his recruiting process during the interview, including late interest shown by Oklahoma.

“Looking back, maybe that would have been a better idea,” Garcia said.

Garcia still enjoys the No. 20 Gamecocks’ success, he said.

“It’s awesome being an alum, but I just wish things had ended a little better for me,” Garcia said.

Spurrier sold Garcia on the idea of building a tradition at South Carolina, said Garcia, who said friends tried to steer him away from the Gamecocks by saying Spurrier’s college quarterbacks rarely found success in the NFL.

“Me being hard-headed, I said, ‘Forget that, I am going to set a new mold,’ ” he said.

The recruiting process turned out to be much different than his college experience, he said.

“It’s a lot different when you get to the school, that’s for sure,” he said.

Click here to listen to the podcast

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