When South Carolina fans welcome new starting quarterback Lorenzo Nunez on Saturday, they might recognize an old one watching from the sidelines of Williams-Brice Stadium.
Former Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia, whose off-field antics were just as well-known as his feats on the gridiron, has returned to Columbia this week for the first time since his prolific college career ended with a program dismissal in October 2011. For as unceremonious as his exit may have been — Garcia went so far as to say “it basically broke my heart” in a 2012 story from the Palm Beach Post — the 27-year-old is still thrilled to be back at his old stomping grounds.
“Excited for this week/weekend,” Garcia tweeted on Monday. “Been 3 long years but coming back up to Cola for the (UCF) game.”
Garcia will receive an introduction on the field Saturday, according to The State’s David Cloninger, after spending the past couple of days reconnecting with old friends (like coach Steve Spurrier) and chatting with newcomers like Nunez and former walk-on Perry Orth.
“I talk to coach (Steve) Spurrier during the offseason all the time,” Garcia said to Cloninger. “We have a much better relationship than we did when I was playing for him. I don’t think I’m going to take as much time between visits from here on out.”
Garcia comments on a slew of other topics in the story, as well, including his attempts to break into the NFL and his thoughts on multi-QB offenses.
Disciplinary issues aside, Garcia was one of the best quarterbacks in South Carolina history, ranking third in career passing yards (6,753) and touchdowns thrown (43) while at one point starting 28 straight games. It won’t be hard to imagine Gamecocks fans giving him a warm greeting when they hear his name on Saturday.
Excited for this week/weekend. Been 3 long years but coming back up to Cola for the ucf game.
— Stephen Garcia (@StephenGarcia) September 21, 2015
— Logan Bailey (@LoganBailey06) September 24, 2015