6-foot-6, 330-pound Abraham Garcia – referred to as Nacho by those that know him best – joined up with 24 local prospects this past summer to form the South Florida Express travel team.
It wasn’t your ordinary 7-on-7 team.
Just outside the spotlight of the rising seniors was a pair of underclassmen both looking to use the trip as a chance to find out more about colleges that had shown them interest.
Garcia had also picked up a few early scholarship offers, the biggest from the in-state Gators.
Outside of their talents being desired by coaches across the country, the two found immediate common ground and sparked a friendship that could end up paying off big for LSU in the long run.
“Right when I met Avery I knew that we were going to be close for a long time,” Garcia said. “We just had so many similarities, and we hit it off right away. We pretty much stayed alongside each other that whole trip, and we’ve been friends ever since.”
The stop on the bus ride that the pair enjoyed most: Baton Rouge.
“The coaches hooked it up to where we got to see everything, so I already have that good feel for what the environment is like,” Garcia said. “We started with the indoor facility and then went and checked out the trophy and weight rooms. Then we bounced over to the stadium and then outside to see the Tiger.
“I loved it all. It was definitely the campus that stood out most.”
One better, Garcia had his own tour guide.
“Avery acted like he pretty much ran that place,” Garcia laughed. “Every different room we went into he would start talking about something new, whether it was the tradition or the talent on offense or how loud the stadium got. He got me excited about having a chance to be part of something like that, and there wasn’t even a game being played or people on campus.”
Nearly two months later, Garcia got a text message from Johnson with some surprising news.
“I looked at my phone on Wednesday and Avery is telling me that he was the first guy to commit to LSU for 2012, and he wanted me to come too,” Garcia said. “Avery even told the coaches when he committed that I should also get offered, and I’m definitely hoping one comes sometime this season.”
With his mailbox stacking up with letters from schools across the country, Garcia wasn’t hesitant to name a favorite – especially given Johnson’s pledge.
“LSU is my number one right now,” Garcia said. “I felt comfortable on my visit, and from everything that the coaches and Avery have told me it’s a great spot to be at. I know it’s still very early, but LSU is at the top.”